NEW CASTLE - The Zeller name has become synonymous with basketball success in the state of Indiana and beyond. Oldest brother Luke played college basketball at Notre Dame and is attempting to make the San Antonio Spurs roster this year. He came extremely close to making the squad this past season, but multiple broken noses derailed his cause.
Tyler Zeller just finished a successful career as the big man for North Carolina and is expect to be a first round pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Youngest brother Cody had an incredibly successful freshman season with the Hoosiers, helping to lead the resurgence of Indiana University basketball. They all were named Mr. Basketball in high school and won state titles.
For parents Steve and Lorri, success on the basketball court is only half the story. All three Zeller brothers have been raised to put academics above all else and develop into well rounded citizens. It is in that mold that the Zeller family has started the Distinxion program, which aims to teach young athletes the necessary tools to achieve greatness on and off the court.
On Saturday, the Zeller family in accordance with the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, held an event at New Castle Fieldhouse featuring 16 high school teams. Aside from the games played, Luke and Steve Zeller spoke to the teams and anyone else who wanted to attend about life lessons and responsibility. There was also a question and answer session that ranged from Luke's greatest achievement to Steve and Lorri's advice for dealing with recruiting.
"It's a neat thing to be able to give back to these kids and show them not only the basketball, but the character end of it and how to be a good person," said Steve.
Lorri Zeller echoed her husband's sentiment saying, "It's very gratifying to be able to do this with our family and have everyone involved." "It's a great way to spend time together in the gym, it's what we've always done, but this time we're giving back to other kids so that's what it's all about."
Players, parents, and coaches were intently engaged as Luke and Steve gave their advice on basketball and life.
"The biggest thing is that at some point the ball is going to stop bouncing," said the eldest Zeller brother. "At some point they're going to have to do something else, even these coaches out here had to stop playing at some point and when the ball stops bouncing I want there to be a great person left over."
It became increasingly obvious that Luke is a natural at public speaking and motivation. While he currently is focused on trying to make an NBA roster after his stint in the NBDL, it would not be surprising to see Luke Zeller leading a team at some point in the future.
"I really enjoy being around basketball and coaching," he said. "I like being able to compete and win so we'll see what happens, coaching could definitely be in there after I'm done playing."