Nationally recruited Senior Cody Zeller, from Washington High School in Washington, Indiana, has narrowed his school choices down to three; And what a top three they are.
Zeller, one of the Top 40 high school players in the country, has his mind locked on Indiana University, North Carolina, and Butler.(That's right I said Butler.) Not Purdue, not Notre Dame, not even Ball State. Butler, the school that most perceive as a school that can't land high profile recruits, are in a fight with the big dogs.
Sure, the Hoosiers have Tom Crean who is trying to turn the program around, and the Tar Heels have Roy Williams, (arguably one of the best coaches in the country,) and a winning tradition that is almost impossible to beat, but look at the Bulldogs!
Sure I'm a Butler fan,(sue me,) but with Zeller as an incoming freshman for the 2011-2012 season look at the roster the Bulldogs would have.
Not only will star guards Ronald Nored and Shelvin Mack be seniors, but incoming freshman this season,(Kyle Marshall(Florida,) Eric Fromm(Indiana,) and Chrishawn Hopkins(Indiana,) will be built into the system and ready to make another post-season run.
Also Cody Zeller is a 6-11 center, guess who is going to be a junior during the 11'-12' season....Andrew Smith!
I know what your thinking...Who is Andrew Smith?
Nobody saw much of Smith this past season because the main sub, for when Matt Howard was in foul trouble, was Senior Avery Jukes.
At 6-11, and with Howard to mentor him this entire season, you would have two big men in the form of Zeller and Smith, dominating the board battles, and stopping any offense that tries to come inside.
Put into your mind the Butler Squad from last year, then take away Hayward and Howard, and Jukes, and add all the recruits,(plus Zeller,) and tell me what you get......
If your jaw has not hit the floor yet, let me give you an assist. Butler would have a power packed squad that can compete with big guys inside, like Brian Zoubek.
Zeller has a big decision and seems to be in no rush to make it.
He has told the Indianapolis Star,(Indiana's leading newspaper,) that a decision will not be made until he has visited all three schools this fall.
For those of you who still think Butler's run was a one time thing, and that players would never consider going there, I beg you; think again!
The 2011 recruiting class already consists of an AAU all-star from Chicago,(in Roosevelt Jones,) and 2 home grown recruits from Indiana, so it's not like Butler's recruting ways are not growing already.
Regardless, Butler Head Coach Brad Stevens knows how to recruit,and with the best record by a coach in his first three seasons (89-15) in NCAA History, he has something to back it up with.
The so called "little school that could" is back up against some of the top colleges, only this time Cody Zeller is the prize up for grabs, rather than an NCAA Championship.
So now we sit back and wait, watching how Zeller's senior year goes, and wondering how big of an impact his top three schools will make this season.
I am not sure about IU, or the Tar Heels, but if Butler can stay focused as only Coach Stevens knows, we could see yet another magical season from these Bulldogs.
That however is not the message you as readers should take from this article. The message that should be taken is simply this; the ball is in Cody Zeller's court.
If that ball lands in Butler's historic Hinkle Fieldhouse over IU's Assembly Hall or the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center in North Carolina, the perception of the Bulldogs will change forever.
They will no longer be known as the Cinderella School that only gains players from suburban Indiana, or the school that receives a gifted player once every fifty years. Rather they will be known not only as the Mid-Major team to beat, but a Mid-Major squad that is not going anywhere...
But more on that later.
~James Cook Future Associated Press