Late Bloomer

Tyler Zeller was anonymous, just the third-leading scorer on the freshman team at Washington High, while older brother Luke was a national recruit, winning the Indiana 3-A state championship on a half-court shot propelling him to Mr. Basketball and a spot on the McDonald's All-American team. At that time, nobody envisioned a Division I scholarship for the younger Zeller.

But with hard work a lot has changed in two years.

Now a junior, Tyler Zeller has 13 scholarship offers and has narrowed down his list of favorites to nine schools. The 6-foot-10, 200-pound forward would like to ink a letter-of-intent before his senior season during the early-signing period in November.

"I have it down to nine schools," said Zeller, who's older brother Luke will be a junior on the Notre Dame basketball team next season. "Michigan, Notre Dame, Purdue, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa, Iowa State and Kansas. I'll probably narrow it down to five so I can take my officials to those five schools."

Sometimes Zeller thinks to himself how amazing it is he is in this position after failing to make even the junior varsity as a ninth grader.

"Everyone kind of the thought I was going to be the one who never did anything," Zeller said. "I kind of shocked them all sophomore year coming back and playing as well as I did."

A gym rat all the way up to that season, Zeller averaged 16 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore, and started to get interest from a few Division I schools.

Zeller kept working, and says he plays totally different than his brother, who likes to float around the perimeter and hunt his shot. As a junior, Zeller went for 20 points and 10 rebounds and had a few scholarship offers come in.

"A lot of it, I grew a lot," Zeller said. "I worked out as much as I could to get better. Did anything I could and matured quite a bit.

"When I was real young I didn't play a lot. I turned it around recently, and I love playing. I'm always willing to come in and go workout. If I don't play for two or three days I get bored.

"I play nothing like Luke really," Zeller said. He has a 3.98 GPA. "I play inside a lot more. I probably run the floor better than him. I tell him that all the time. I step out and shoot every once in a while but most of the time it's 10 to 15 footers. I can shoot threes, but I usually don't go out there that far."

A couple nice performances on the AAU circuit in Arkansas and Texas recently has lead to Zeller putting together a nice list of offers. This summer Zeller and his parents will take some unofficial visits and start eliminating programs in reaching that final five.

"It's kind of mind boggling after playing down in Arkansas and in three days you get nine offers from schools," Zeller said.

With Luke Zeller being at Notre Dame, Tyler's strongest relationship is currently with the Notre Dame coaching staff, being that he has been up for a few games and the coaches have been by his house. But that doesn't make the Irish a lock by any stretch.

"I talk to a couple other schools quite a bit because they've been recruiting me awhile," Zeller said.

Zeller and Irish assistant Sean Kearney chat on the phone every once in awhile. At the Top-100 workout in Indianapolis, Zeller talked with coach Mike Brey for a little bit.

"I love the program, just from everything Luke says about it, it sounds like a great program.

"It definitely helps seeing them be able to be as good as they were this year. That they can compete against the top people in the nation.

"I like being up there being around them. I like the coaches and players. The school is a great school. You always hear about the Notre Dame education. That would be a great education to have.

"Luke is pretty supportive of whatever I'm going to choose," Zeller said. Every once in awhile, he jokes around about me coming there, but he isn't going to pressure me about anything."

The advice Zeller has been getting about committing, is that it will just click one day. When he is on a visit to a certain school or in a certain conversation, it will just click.

"People say it kind of clicks, so I'm going to wait around and find out where I want to go," he said.

The Notre Dame coaches, who would like to bring in a big man this recruiting class, are hoping for the same click with Tyler Zeller that Luke Zeller had.


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