Pretend you’re Kelvin Sampson. How would you sell Tyler Zeller?

Well I was glad to see the kind of response I got to the first blog. Whatever your opinion may have been, from our point of view, it’s good to see that kind of interest.

I’ve got a few blog ideas I think you guys will like in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

But first and foremost, that Tyler Zeller kid will be here this weekend and Kelvin Sampson and his staff has the improbable task of topping his visit to North Carolina last week. I don’t think IU will have much trouble impressing Zeller over Notre Dame (where his brother Luke currently plays) or Purdue, but Carolina is a whole different story. Carolina is Carolina. How hard is it to sell a program that hangs Michael Jordan’s jersey in the rafters next to their championship banners? Personally, and I’ve thought this all along, I think Zeller’s going to UNC. But, IU definitely has a chance. They’ll have to impress the heck out of him this weekend.

So, here’s my question to you: If you were Kelvin Sampson this weekend, how would you go about selling Indiana University to this young man? I’ve always wondered what goes on during a recruiting visit behind closed doors, especially with a kid like Zeller that could have a big impact on the program in years to come. What do they tell him? Granted, they’ll take him out to eat tonight, the football game tomorrow, etc. But what do they tell him about the basketball program? I’m sure they show him those glorious championship banners hanging in the rafters in Assembly Hall. And I’m sure they point out that Indiana doesn’t hang multiple Big Ten banners, or banners for every Final Four appearance, like other schools. Indiana’s a school where people care about the basketball team year-around. Sell that. Make sure he knows that he’ll be playing in front of 17,000 people who bleed cream and crimson.

Oh yeah, and the academic side to it. If it’s true that Zeller wants to go into business, which I’ve heard, then IU might be perfect for him. The Kelley School of Business here was just named No. 5 best in the nation by The Wall Street Journal. They should harp that fact to Zeller non-stop throughout his visit.

Also, and this may be the one thing Indiana has over Carolina, but the drive to Bloomington from Washington, Ind. isn’t more than 75 miles. His parents could come see every home game. Carolina can’t say that.

So what do all of you think? What would you tell Tyler Zeller this weekend to help pry him away from Roy Williams’ grasp?


  1. I would have people out in front of their homes the entire way from Washington to Bloomington waving with signs saying, “Welcome to Indiana Basketball, Tyler!” There is no way that he would have the impact on the people of North Carolina in the same way he would impact the passion and the pride of the people of Indiana by staying home and wearing Crimson and Cream.

  2. I’d sell him on, number 1, Indiana Basketball. The history, the passion, the fans, etc. And with that, how much it means when local kids play for the team. Second, the players coming in for 08. If Zeller commits (and Jones) we could have the #1 class in the country. Third, Kelvin’s style of play. Hard nosed, defensive, toughness. Then maybe you focus on academics and the campus as a whole.

  3. cln – awesome idea, nearly impossible to pull off. But I like the thinking.

    Being that he is in Bloomington with a home game for the football team, I would have cards set up for the student section that they could hold over there head that would spell out “Welcome Tyler Zeller” in red and white.

    I would take him to establishments like Cafe Pizzeria & Janko’s to show him how much pride this town has in IU athletics.

    Then I would make sure he knows he was born a Hoosier, raised a Hoosier, and now has a chance to seal his place in Hoosier history.

  4. I went to IU as an Undergrad and I’m attending UNC as a graduate student. I know the differences and believe me there are things that IU can sell over UNC. For one I actually believe that IU is a more religous campus than UNC. From what I read he is very involved in his faith. There are tons more christian groups and clubs at IU which he can participate in.
    I would actually have to say that IU is a more beautifull campus than UNC as well ( not by a lot ). UNC does have a slightly better business school, but ( I don’t know if he’s interested in this) IU is a much more laid back campus. He described how cool franklin street (in UNC) is, but honestly the people are stuck up as can be. In B-town you have all types of bars and restaurants for all types of people. Also there is so much more to do for reasonable prices at IU. IU has better theatre, music, art then at UNC ( I purchased tickets for stomp and the red chilli peppers for 30 bucks, you can’t do that at UNC). UNC does have better golf, if he’s interested in golf. Overall, I’m just saying that I personally think there is a lot more to sell at IU than at UNC. Most importantly I believe that while UNC does have a better academic school ( not by too much), IU can make someone into a better rounded individual ( Thats if he or she wants to learn). Thank you for your time.

  5. I forgot to mention, when I showed him the the banners in the hall, I would have the 1981National Championship (IU vs. UNC) game playing on the new score board.

  6. Karl Malone here. Karl Malone think Coach Sampson should sell Tyler on the great huntin and fishin that is in Indiana. Karl Malone think they won’t be sellin that in North Carolina. Karl Malone also think Coach Sampson will help Tyler to how to use those elbows to grab them rebounds. This how Karl Malone would sell IU.

    Karl Malone

  7. I like your build on the idea with the signs, Mike P. So, I don’t know if this is against some recruiting rule, but how great would it be if during halftime of the football game, the PA would introduce “the starting lineup for your 2008-09 Indiana Hoosiers” and go through the line up with Tyler last with highlights of each of the players on the scoreboard and finish with highlights of Tyler playing high school ball, but somehow superimposed with an IU floor or uniform. Then the whole stadium does a “Ty-ler Zel-ler, Ty-ler Zel-ler” cheer for a good minute or two.

  8. cln – since none of these guys are signed, I don’t think doing a public display like you are talking about would be the best idea. I don’t know if it breaks any NCAA rules, but I am sure there is something, in some of the rules. I do like your ideas on this.

  9. Show him the Business School… walk him around campus… Meet some students… Have a couple of nice dinners with Staff and Players… Let Sampson have a one on one with him then Let him play with the current players period! If he is not sold with that then wish him well.

  10. I would tell him that none of the Indiana big guys that went to UNC are BELOVED like they would be here.

    May won a Title there and nobody in Indiana gives a crap about him here.

    I’d tell him he’s the final piece to the number one class that would be considered LEGENDS if they brought another banner to the Hall.

    Plus, his family would get to see every game.

  11. Chris – Would it violate the rules to have the student section spell out his name with red and white cardboard pieces?


  12. Too bad, we don’t need to break any rules.

    My guess (not ever having been recruited by an NCAA program myself) is that this is more of an emotional, gut decision than anything else. I don’t think this decision will be based on which campus he likes the look of or what school is better – those are all similar between the schools anyway. We all usually make a decision in our gut and then look for pros and cons to make sense of that decision rather than doing it the other way around.

    Coach Sampson and his staff (and the rest of us) can trigger feelings of emotion and loyalty in Tyler, and a sense of just how much it would mean to the people of Indiana as a whole for him to be a Hoosier. If every single student or resident of Bloomington who saw Tyler went up to him and said, “Welcome to Bloomington, it would sure mean a lot to us if you stayed home and became a Hoosier”, then I think that would be all of the input that Tyler needs. It would show the passion for basketball we have, the love of the school, and the genuine warmth and friendliness of the people.

    And I really doubt anyone in North Carolina would’ve cared enough to do that. Or to have taken the time we have to think about this so far on a Friday afternoon.

  13. let’s let sampson and basketball team members do the recruiting and use the football game to concentrate on winning a 4th game and showing some support and love for the good football recruits that will be at the game.

  14. The big thing, for me at least, is that Zeller’s from Indiana. Growing up in this state, you come to realize that if you play basketball and you’re good enough, you’re a Hoosier. That’s how it always was when the General was here, and Sampson’s working hard to get it back that way. Granted, the Davis era cost us some major recruits (see Oden, Conley, McRoberts, Dominic James), but Sampson made a huge step last year in landing Gordon. Huge.

    Sampson needs to tell Zeller that he’s part of something bigger in Indiana. Basketball in this state borders religion.

    In other words, make Tyler Zeller understand why Indiana basketball is Indiana basketball.

    That’s my two cents.


  15. If you arranged for the student section to do that, it would not technically be a violation. Indiana is not allowed to arrange any public showing like that, though.

    But Indiana has been very touchy about stuff like this. I think they’re afraid of getting blamed for arranging things even if they do not in fact arrange them. But no one can stop you or anyone else from showing support for a recruit, especially since he has publicly stated that he’ll be here this weekend.

  16. Thanks for the input Chris. There are so many stupid recruiting rules in a system that is so fundamentally flawed anyways. I won’t go on my recruiting rant again. I am sure you have read it enough.

  17. “In other words, make Tyler Zeller understand why Indiana basketball is Indiana basketball.”

    …Because your former Mr. Basketball is unable to play and Gordon’s going to the NBA… Tyler will then have to carry the team?

    Indiana Basketball was basketball when coach Knight was here… i’ve yet to see anything since.

  18. Be real, be upfront, and be honest. I’ve met Tyler a few times and he is a grounded, solid kid. You won’t win him over by chanting his name. You’ll win him over by being honest with him about who we are and what our goals are.

    Recruiting Z will be totally different than any other kids we’ve recruited in a long time. (Maybe Eric Anderson or Todd Lindleman.) I think Sampson knows that.

  19. Zak is on target here. Some people question Tyler’s ability, to which I respond, “I dont care, I want him just because I want us to get every Mr. Basketball-candidate player in southern Indiana.” So, I agree with selling him on Indiana basketball and him being an Indiana kid. Maybe get some former Indiana kids around to come talk abuot how special its been for them their entire lives, Benson, Bailey, Leary, whoever. Build on that by pointing out he can do all that close to home, his parents can come to every game, he can still go home and build shit with his dad, there was a rumor that his girlfriend is coming here, he must have friends coming here, he can home for church when he wants, etc, etc.

    And, if he’s a kid that is worried about getting away from home, like many high school seniors in rural Indiana are–I think you show him some of the things that makes IU special. Like the B school, campus, culture and people from all over the world, etc. He can be close to his friends and family, be a hero at a basketball power and get just as good or better of an experience that he’d get if he moved far away. He’s close to home, but Bloomington is also worlds away from Washington.

  20. sooo busy at work today… sorry guys i haven’t had time to give my expert opinion. all in due time… i know mike p can’t wait!!!

  21. Simple — just let him spend a little time with EJ Gordon. Great players want to be around and on the level of other great players, and EJ’s an Indiana kid, almost a legend already. And where he (ultimately) decided to play college ball says a lot.

    Ideally, I’d love to imagine (and sell TZ on) the idea of come next year, play with Gordon/Ebanks and let’s get a title, and then the next year it’s Tyler’s team before he’s also a 2-and-done. Although I suspect EJ could very well go after this year (and, if DJ stays healthy, IU could be a national contender as soon as this season too) — and that TZ would ideally and possibly likely stay in college for 3 years to physically build up.

  22. IU Jimmy your right, I am bitter :P, but its hard to help.

    “Zak is on target here. Some people question Tyler’s ability, to which I respond, “I dont care, I want him just because I want us to get every Mr. Basketball-candidate player in southern Indiana.””

    Does that mean he will be trying to steal Garrett Butcher (only 5 minutes away from IU and was the 2008 class’s leading scorer last year going to Butler), Randy Davis who played on the core Indiana Junior All-star team, Logan Jones (going to valpo?), Walter Offutt (Ohio State), and Julius Mays (Going to NC State)….

    That only really leaves Zeller that hasn’t verbally committed somewhere… And, I’m not sure how hard he really tried to get any of those other players…?

  23. First, predictions of how a HS player will do in college is difficult, but the general opinion is that TZ is an outstanding player and a likely McDonald’s All-American. He’s top 25 in his class.
    Second, AUG to the best of my knowledge we really did not recruit any of these players hard. Offutt committed to OSU early. It may have been even before KS was hired at IU. There was some controversy last year that IU was trying to recruit Offutt after he had committed. Scout shows no offer from IU. Offutt was clearly the best of these players. He was on a level with TZ, but a knee injury has hindered him. I hear he is improving after coming back from the injury.
    Of the other players only Julius Mays was clearly high D1 talent. IU never offered him. Logan Jones is a very good player but only borderline D1 talent. He was not offered by IU. Garrett Butcher is a very good player but not high D1 talent. He was not offered by IU. Randy Davis is not high D1 talent, and he was not offered by IU.

  24. I could see how you not include davis in the “high” d1 list considering how small he is… but jones boderline and butcher not… that doesnt make any sense.

  25. Taking another look at my opinion, AUG, I think you’re right. I should have said at the very least Butcher is probably high D1 talent.

  26. uhm… what.

    if your being sarcastic (cant tell… saw him play as an Indiana All-Star and against Bloomington South and he looked good).. you can use simple html (as listed below) to express it…

  27. When Tyler had his visit at UNC the student section chanted his name for about 5 minutes which is a pretty impressive show of how much basketball means in north carolina and i can personally tell you having lived there for about 20 years that basketball is truly a religion….. days of the ACC tournament no one goes to school from elementary to high school with a bookbag b/c they know all they will be doing is watching the games and UNC vs DUKE literally stops the entire state for about 2-3 hours

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