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NBA Draft 2012 Prospect Profile: Tyler Zeller

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Tyler Zeller played all four seasons for the North Carolina Tarheels, helping lead them to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament this past season and earning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year honors. He is a 7-foot, 250 pound center/power forward who finished second on the Tarheels in scoring, rebounding, blocks, and field goal percentage. Zeller averaged 16.3 points per game on 55.3% shooting, 80.8% free throw shooting, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. The Indiana native, who turned 22 in January, scored 20+ points 11 times, with a high-scoring game of 31 points, a high-rebounding game of 22 boards, and 14 double-doubles.

In four NCAA tourney games, Zeller averaged 15.0 points and 12.3 rebounds.

Zeller improved each season while at North Carolina, and his impressive senior season helped solidify his draft stock. Hoopshype.com writes that Zeller has a nice package of size and skills, and runs the floor exceptionally well for a 7-footer.

Walker Beeken of draftexpress.com, in his evaluation, raves about how Zeller has shown a toughness and willingness to embrace contact in the paint, and shows great floor speed in running the court with a nice set of hands and a good motor for a player his size who can beat most any big man down the court. Beeken notes that Zeller converted an impressive 79% of his field goals in transition this past season, and has solid mechanics and a quick release on his jump shot which should bode well for his potential to space the floor.

On the defensive side of the ball, Beeken writes that Zeller may lack some girth to defend bigger NBA centers, but "he's a very cerebral defender who understands positioning, as he does an excellent job in drawing charges." Beeken goes on to write that Zeller's smarts and instincts should enable him to fit into a defensive scheme, where he has the potential to excel defending ball screens and making the proper rotations.

The few weaknesses that Zeller needs to work on, according to Beeken, is that he needs to continue to refine his post game while working on his footwork and mixing up his repertoire. Also, he needs to do a better job of passing out of the post and finding open shooters. The fact that Zeller is already 22 years old and doesn't have elite length or athleticism may limit his upside in the eyes of some NBA teams.

Despite that, 7-footers who can rebound, run the floor, and score in the post are always highly coveted. Should the Orlando Magic decide to trade franchise center Dwight Howard, Tyler Zeller would be an ideal center to draft as a replacement. Zeller will likely be drafted somewhere in the top twelve though because of his considerable talents, and should be long gone by the time the Magic pick 19th.