This probably qualifies under much ado about nothing but it made for some interesting conversation on Twitter.Looking ahead to the season, CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman posted his Wooden Award Top 50. The list the link points to includes Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, John Henson and Tyler Zeller. No big deal right? Well, aarlier in the day that was not the case. Goodman's first version of the list left Zeller off entirely.
If you are thinking that Tyler Zeller being excluded is a major omission, you would be right. Goodman originally decided to leave Zeller off the list for reasons that pass all understanding. Predictably, UNC fans took exception to this as we probably should to which Goodman responded via Twitter.
North Carolina fans have the lunatics in Lexington beat today. Complaining no Zeller when I have 3 other guys from UNC on Wooden list.
Well okay then. Goodman eventually relented though it seemed to be based on people being pissed more than the fact he was wtong.
And yes, he was wrong.
For starters, let's take a look back at C.Michael's final Beyond the Box post of the 2011 season. In it you will find this neat little table comparing Zeller's junior season with that of Tyler Hansbrough's.
[table id=117 /]
Zeller's numbers were comparable with Hansbrough's which is not to say we should put them in the same class but it does mean Zeller is pretty darn good. Zeller's offensive rating was tops on the 2011 team and it wasn't close. Also consider UNC's offense is run through the post and Zeller runs the floor as well as anyone on the team. Zeller is versatile, consistent and depending on the situation, he is either the #1 or #2 offensive option on the floor.
This is why simply including three Tar Heels doesn't make up for the fact Goodman so grossly missed the point. I love Kendall Marshall's game and he is a crucial cog. John Henson is a great defender and a freakish athlete. However neither one of them go on any list ahead of Zeller which speaks to just how underrated Zeller is in the minds of some people. His production is not flashy nor does it blow you away but Zeller easily had the most reliable offense on the team last season.
Now you could argue that improved offensive production from Marshall and/or Henson plus Barnes being all the thing we assume he will be might reduce Zeller's prominence in the offense. I would argue the opposite to some extent. Marshall and Henson being legitimate threats on offense means Zeller won't see any double teams. That only serves to boost his scoring potential. Barnes' increased production might take some opportunities from Zeller however in most of the games UNC will play, Zeller will overmatch the interior players he faces. Zeller will produce, as will most everyone on the floor in a Tar Heel uniform. That is why this team will be so good.
The bottom line here is not the list so much as the fact Goodman ignored tons of compelling evidence proving Zeller's worth including four straight NCAA Tournament games last March scoring 21 points or more. When he was confronted with excluding such a quality player, Goodman's response is to call UNC fans "lunatics" and whine we didn't thank him for including three Tar Heels. It would be one thing if fans complained because Goodman excluded Reggie Bullock or Dexter Strickland. Neither of those deserve consideration for obvious reasons. In Zeller case, this is a player who was the co-leading scorer on the 2011 team and returns for his senior season after being a near lock for the first round of the NBA Draft last season.
Based on that you tell me who the lunatic is?