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Last updated on Friday, February 10, 2012
(WASHINGTON) (FOX59) - There have been many famous families in the illustrious history of Indiana high school basketball.
However, Steve and Lorri Zeller are in an exclusive club, the only parents to three Indiana High School Mr. Basketballs. They've also seen each of their sons leave Washington High School after winning IHSAA State Championships as seniors and go on to play major college basketball.
"We've seen the Big East, now we've got the Big Ten and the ACC that we get to follow, it's not just one game you want to see who they're playing and who they're going to be playing," said Steve Zeller while reflecting on the fantastic ride his boys continue to take him on.
Luke Zeller played for Notre Dame from 2005-09, while Tyler Zeller is currently a senior for North Carolina, and Cody is a freshman at Indiana University.
Each of the Zeller boys was heavily recruited by the major basketball powers, and the Zeller parents learned a few lessons with each recruitment.
"Luke was the pioneer, he definitely blazed the trail for the other two and he also trained us. We went through it and we were a lot more nervous going through the whole thing with Luke and when Tyler came along it was a little bit easier and in all honesty we worried with Luke about answering every telephone call and going through each thing and with Tyler we started relaxing and with Cody we just answered back the ones we wanted to," added Steve.
Cody's recruitment was heavily scruitinized by fans and media members across the state. Tom Crean was trying to make an impact with top-level recruits in the state of Indiana at the same time the Hoosiers, were struggling on the court. Cody saw something with Coach Crean that his older brothers did not.
Steve Zeller let Cody control the process, but was very close to his son throughout.
"When Coach (Mike) Davis took over, Luke as in that situation going through, it just didn't fit, it wasn't right for him, it wasn't something that he wanted. When Coach (Kelvin) Sampson was in there, same thing, Tyler just didn't feel comfortable. Cody went in there, and he feels very comfortable with Coach Crean. I really believe that Coach Crean can bring them back to the things they were doing when Coach Knight was there."
The Zellers' faith in Indiana basketball has been rewarded as the Hoosiers have exceeded most expectations in Cody's freshman year. Wins over then top-ranked Kentucky and second-ranked Ohio State sent the basketball-crazy state into a Hysteria not seen in recent memory. In fact, until this season, no Indiana basketball team had defeated schools ranked #1 and #2 in the country in the same season.
As great as it is for Steve and Lorri to follow the Hoosiers from their home in nearby Washington, they also keep close tabs on Tyler in North Carolina.
"I'm the travel agent, we have a calendar on our refrigerator that is color coated, so we have red for IU, blue for Carolina, and Luke's (currently playing in the NBDL) are in Purple. We go through at the beginning of the season and circle the games that we think we can get to. It is a juggling act, because when we're in North Carolina, we might miss a game of the other son, so it's kind of a trade-off," said Lorri who is still working full-time at Washington High School as the Athletic Department Secretary.
Steve and Lorri Zeller got quite a bit of attention during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge when Indiana played at North Carolina State the same night that North Carolina hosted Wisconsin. The Zellers wore shirts with half UNC/half IU colors and ESPN followed their journey traveling to watch both sons' games.
While it is difficult at times to balance both IU and North Carolina's schedules, this would fall into the category of "Pleasant Problem"
"It's a dream, it really is. People say, 'how do you handle all of the travel?' I say it's a great problem to have, we love it. It's a dream to be able to follow around. We've got two division one basketball players and one in the professional ranks, it's a neat thing," added Steve.
The Zellers have seen their sons capture four IHSAA State Championships and have followed countless NCAA games over the last decade. They have so many stories and such a unique parenting perspective that a book will likely be published sometime after Cody finishes his Indiana career.
It is hard to say what will happen next for the Zeller basketball family. There will likely be more big wins and national attention coming towards Washington, Indiana as Cody continues to help re-build Indiana Basketball.
One thing is for certain, Cody will likely never take himself too seriously and will continue to work as hard as he can to be the best that he can be. That is the way the Zellers were taught at a very young age.
"It's really expectations. I look back at my Mom and Dad, one had an 8th grade education, one had a 6th grade education, their expectations were that we would get a college degree, and we did not come home with B's because the expectation was that we'd come home with A's or we would work at it," said Steve Zeller while reflecting on his childhood. "It was the same thing (with Luke, Tyler, Cody) It wasn't a situation where if they came home with a B, they were punished....The expectations were, you did the best you could at everything you did, that's what we encouraged them to do, the best they could."
The Zellers boys continue to follow those instructions and who knows, maybe their hard work will be rewarded with an NCAA tournament match-up in late March.
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