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Player Profile: Tyler Zeller

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In the ramp up to the 2010-11 basketball season, Tar Heel Fan will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season. Today’s profile looks at forward Tyler Zeller.

Vitals

Number: 44
Position: Forward
Height: 7-0
Weight: 250 lbs
Year: Junior
2009-10 Stats: 27 gms, 9.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 52.1 FG%, 72.2 FT%
Career Stats: 42 gms, 7.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 51.3 FG%, 73.0 FT%

What Happened Last Season

Zeller was injured for the second straight season, this time with a stress fracture in his right foot, forcing him to miss 10 games. Despite missing this time, he was still Carolina's 4th-leading scorer. He was part of the main three-man post rotation down the stretch with John Henson and Deon Thompson and posted a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds against Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament.

Outlook For This Season

With the departures of Thompson, Ed Davis, and Will Graves, Zeller is Carolina's leading returning scorer and will be counted on to do many things for the Heels as they are razor-thin in big men. As one of only three players over 6-9 or taller, Zeller will have to be a solid rebounder as well as contributing points in the post. He certainly has the tools as he runs the floor as well as any big man in the country and Roy Williams has to hope Zeller returns to the form he showed in the first few games of his freshman year when he was rebounding and showing range out to 15 feet before being hurt against Kentucky and losing most of that year to injury.

Main Concerns

Only one - staying healthy. Of course the question is raised as to whether or not Zeller is injury-prone, which of course he says he is not. The broken arm his freshman year was a freak play and the stress fracture from last year is only one example in what seems to be a rash of foot and lower leg injuries for UNC over the past few years. Nevertheless, the Heels are going to need a healthy year out of Zeller since there is no room for error in the post.

Wish List

14.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 32 min/game,  55% FG, 73% FT

Zeller should be UNC's leading post scorer and at a minimum should put up numbers close to Deon Thompson's stats from last season. With improved guard play, Carolina should have more balance and relieve some pressure from the three primary big men.