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November 5, 2007

Carolina taps into Indiana again

The cat is officially out of the bag. Tyler Zeller is headed to North Carolina. The 6-foot-11 center from Washington (Ind.) High School has announced his intention to attend the ACC school at a Monday afternoon press conference.

Zeller joins fellow five-star prospect Ed Davis and top 100 point guard Larry Drew, Jr. in the class of 2008 recruiting class for Roy Williams and company. Zeller also considered Indiana, Notre Dame and Purdue.

"North Carolina was the best fit for me," Zeller said at his press conference at the Washington Ponderosa. "I felt more comfortable with the Carolina staff and players than any of the other schools."

Like Sean May and Eric Montross before him, Zeller is leaving the Hoosier state for Chapel Hill. Both Indiana natives struck it rich with a national championship while at UNC.

Distance from home was long considered a hot topic for the five-star big man but he down played the issue at the press conference.

"Distance doesn't really matter because once you're there, you're there," Zeller said. "I wanted to make my own footsteps. This should be fun."

Zeller said a 30 minute meeting on Thursday night with his parents, Steve and Lori, high school coach Gene Miiler was when he knew that North Carolina was the best fit for him.

"I was looking at taking more visits," Zeller said. "The more and more I thought about it, I started to think again about the official visits. It kind of all fit in at that meeting."

Rivals.com national basketball recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said Zeller's skill set at the center position makes the Indiana native an intriguing prospect for the Tar Hells.

"The thing that makes him so attractive is the fact that he can run the floor and shoot the face up jumper so well," Meyer said. "He still has to build his body up more in order to be more physical down low but Zeller is a tough match up with his strengths.

"I think Notre Dame or North Carolina is more of his style of play. I think he's better in an open floor game than a half court, grind it out game that you'll find in the Big Ten. I think the ACC suits him better than the Big Ten. He'll be good in their secondary break bet his man buckets with his speed extremely dangerous as a trailer because he's such a great shooter."

Playing alongside other top recruits at North Carolina also played a large part in his decision, Zeller said.

"Every practice you play in you're playing against the top talent in the nation," he said. "That was probably one of the biggest factors.

"Once you are there, you have a lot of expectations. Playing at a school like that, there are already so many talented players so I don't have to come in and be the man right away. Hopefully I can be the man down the road but I need to do a lot of work to do that."

Zeller, who took multiple visits to all four schools, said he liked his time in Chapel Hill the best.

"For the most part, I felt the most comfortable there. I felt like I fit in the best with all of the players and coaches at North Carolina," he said. "I could have fit in at any of the schools but the most comfortable there."

Mike Pegram, who covered the press conference for Rivals.com, also contributed to this report.


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