Will IU's Recent Investigation Deter Zeller?

Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller is set to announce his college decision Monday, and Hoosier fans are hoping the program's recent investigation won't keep the state's top recruit from coming to Bloomington. But...

Bloomington, Ind. – The NCAA is anywhere from days to weeks to months away from deciding IU's fate with the recent phone call investigation, but Indiana might be dealt its first punishment Monday afternoon.

That's when Washington, Ind., forward Tyler Zeller is set to announce his college decision. Surrounded by family, friends, media types and the Ponderosa buffet (that's where he's scheduled his press conference), Scout.com's 16th-ranked player in the nation will choose between Indiana, Purdue, North Carolina and Notre Dame.

To Zeller's credit, he's been exceedingly thorough throughout the process. He's made both official and unofficial visits to each of his finalists and resisted the temptation to be wooed into a commitment during any of those trips. He's also remained steadfast in his pledge to take a couple of weeks after those visits before making a pledge to any of his suitors.

To everyone else's frustration, he's also been tremendously tight-lipped about his thought process. He has made himself available to talk during the last several months, but he's continued to sing the praises of each program and hasn't tipped his hand about which way he may be leaning.

He's insisted that's because he hasn't known where he might be headed, and has been waiting for something to sway him in one direction or another.

"They say you'll know when you find the right school, you'll wake up and just now," Zeller said two weeks ago.

It appears Zeller has had that revelation. After rumors swirled about taking a couple more unofficial visits before he made a decision or even waiting until the spring, he revealed late last week that Monday – the same day his Washington (Ind.) H.S. team begins practice – he'd end the speculation and announce his decision.

With the degree of uncertainty that still envelopes the IU program, that wouldn't appear to be the best of news for Coach Kelvin Sampson.

It appeared logical that talk of delaying his decision was a positive sign for Indiana, providing time for the dust to settle with the phone call investigation. But he's now set to announce tomorrow, long before the NCAA puts IU's current issues to rest.

Anyway you look at, that can't be good if you're an IU fan. For a player with his size, skills and options, it's not a matter of trying to find a good situation. Instead, it's trying to find something that makes one of those really good situations better than all of the others.

That's what might make seeing Zeller in an IU uniform a long shot. A month ago, the prospects of playing an hour from home and for a team with legitimate national championship aspirations might have been more than enough to convince him to play in Bloomington. Now, with some uncertainty about how the NCAA will rule on the IU matter, Zeller might think he's better off somewhere else.

The unfortunate thing for IU fans is when the NCAA does take a closer look at the case, it could very well accept IU's self-imposed sanctions. After all, it is the first incident that's happened on the Hoosiers' watch, and these are the sort of secondary violations that rarely result in a heavy-handed verdict from the governing body. Indiana staff members first uncovered the violations, IU punished itself, and it's very reasonable to think that no further punishment is forthcoming.

It would be welcomed news if Indiana isn't dealt another blow by the NCAA, but the fallout from the recent news could include the loss of arguably the team's top 2008 recruiting target – Tyler Zeller.

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