By T. Daniel Lancaster
Almost 11 years to the day from when the first Zeller walked on to the court at the Hatchet House as a varsity basketball player, the No. 40 was permanently retired and raised to the rafters on Wednesday night, just before the start of the Barr-Reeve and Washington game.
During that 11-year stretch, the three Zeller brothers, Luke, Tyler and Cody delivered four 3A state championships, three titles of Mr. Basketball and three selections to the McDonald’s All-American team to the basketball rabid black and gold faithful.
Cody Zeller, the consensus preseason NCAA player of the year this year at No. 1 Indiana, was on hand to receive his framed jersey. Parents Steve and Lorri Zeller accepted for Luke and Tyler, as both had NBA commitments, while now playing for Phoenix and Cleveland.
“The Hatchet House is our home,” said Steve Zeller.
“The say it takes a village to raise a child. Well this community has helped us raise the number 40 three times.”
Lorri Zeller said she could not be more proud of her sons.
“That was my father’s number,” added Lorri, “so it was very special that all three eventually got to wear it here.”
The brothers not only rewrote scoring and rebounding records at Washington, Luke was a part of several successful Big East contenders while at Notre Dame, and Tyler won a national championship and was ACC player of the year at North Carolina before being taken in the first round of this year’s NBA draft.
Cody, who has been on the cover of every major basketball magazine this season, including ESPN, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated, said he still gets excited to return to the Hatchet House.
“I get asked a lot ‘what was the best place to play?’ I still tell people this is the greatest place to play and these are the greatest fans,” he added.
When asked what was their most memorable moments in the Hatchet House for each of the three, Steve thought it was Luke winning that first sectional in 2005.
“It was just so positive, because it had been so long before that,” he said.
Lorri and Cody thought it was the regional of 2008, where No. 3 Washington had to beat the No. 1 and 2 teams in the same day to advance to semistate.
“I was just a freshman, but that was the first time I felt like I was on the big stage,” said Cody.
“I got to play a lot more than I thought I would because Seth (Coy) had some foul trouble.”
“I really remember Cody diving for a ball late in that game,” added Steve.
Cody, who is part of the undefeated Hoosiers, returns to Bloomington to face Ball State on Sunday and then his brother Tyler’s alma mater North Carolina on Tuesday.