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Indiana Mr. Basketball lives out dream as All-Star

Thursday, June 12, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tyler Zeller's basketball accolades and accomplishments don't show any signs of slowing down.

The former Washington High School star, Indiana Mr. Basketball winner and McDonald's All-American can now add Indiana All-Star to his resume.

"It's a great honor," Zeller said. "Ever since I was a little kid, I've been playing to become an Indiana All-Star. It definitely feels great to finally be here."

Zeller, a 7-foot center, leads Indiana into the home-and-home series against the Kentucky All-Stars beginning at 8 p.m. Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The second game will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at Louisville Gardens in Kentucky.

The Indiana All-Stars girls' team faces Kentucky at 6 p.m. Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse, and the series concludes at 2 p.m. Sunday at Louisville Gardens.

The games feature some of the states' top high school seniors from the 2007-08 school year, including the North Carolina-bound Zeller, who led Washington to a Class 3A state title in March and now hopes to lead the Indiana All-Stars to a sweep of Kentucky.

Indiana's boys have won the past seven meetings dating back to 2004.

Continuing the winning streak is "definitely important," Zeller said. "You can use it to get a little more hyped up, but in the end, you just have to approach it like another game and try to win it."

Some of Zeller's teammates see the rivalry against Kentucky as more than just "another game." The neighboring states began playing each other in the boys' annual event in 1940.

"It's such a historic game, and there's so much tradition to it," said former Carmel guard Daniel Moore, an Indiana recruit. "Even if you're not a basketball fan, you don't want to open the newspaper and see that Kentucky beat Indiana. ... No matter what, you want your state to do well."

With Zeller leading the way, and a roster filled with Division I college recruits, the Indiana All-Stars appear capable of extending their winning streak against Kentucky.

"I'm going to do anything I can to win. I don't care what it takes," said Zeller, who led the state in scoring last season at 33.1 points per game.

Aside from Zeller's talent on the basketball court, Indiana All-Stars coach Rick Baumgartner of Muncie South has been impressed with his "very humble" personality.

"As good of a player as he is, he seems like an even better kid," Baumgartner said. "To me, there's no better compliment than that."

Zeller doesn't allow himself to become overconfident, despite all his basketball accolades.

"You don't want to think of yourself very highly because there's still a lot of work left," he said. "I want to keep getting better and better every day."

In the girls game at Conseco Fieldhouse, the Indiana All-Stars are trying to continue a winning streak of their own. Indiana has won the past five meetings against Kentucky.

"Like coach (Kem Zolman of Wawasee) has been saying since we got here: Our goal is to win two games," said former Carmel star Danielle Havel, a DePaul recruit. "He said, 'Indiana is counting on you to keep the (streak) alive.' It kind of adds some pressure, but it's a challenge we really want to do."

Indiana will be playing without former Indianapolis North Central guard Briana Bass, a Tennessee recruit who is sidelined with a knee injury.

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