When Chris Thomas arrived at Notre Dame, he became the first Indiana Mr. Basketball ever to play for the Fighting Irish. Not only did Thomas's decision mean that an incredibly talented star would play in the JACC, it also gave Irish fans hope of gaining access to the fertile Indiana recruiting scene. (For some reason, the Ross brothers did not prove to be watershed recruits in the state). Given that other Mr. Basketball winners include Sean May, Jason Gardner, Bryce Drew, Glenn Robinson, Damon Bailey, Steve Alford, George McGinnis and Oscar Robertson, the ability to attract major Indiana recruits can have a significant impact on the team's fortunes.
For the second time in five years, the Indiana No. 1 jersey will be worn by a Notre Dame recruit. Today, Luke Zeller was named the 2005 Indianapolis Star Mr. Basketball.
Zeller received 101 of a possible 247 votes cast by coaches and members of the media. Dominic James of Richmond was second with 63 votes and Josh McRoberts of Carmel was third with 41. Twelve other high school seniors accounted for the other 42 votes.The 2005 Indiana high school class is one of the deepest in memory, with James bound for Marquette and McRoberts bound for the (ahem) leader who happens to coach basketball. Yet Zeller ran away with the vote, practically receiving as many votes as James and McRoberts combined. Zeller put together a stellar year, combining per game averages of 19.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks with a state championship. And one hell of a memory.
It deserves mention that Mr. Basketball is not simply awarded to the high school player that projects as the best college or pro prospect. It's possible James or McRoberts will best Zeller in either of these areas. Mr. Basketball voters have always looked at the performance of candidates' high school, rather than AAU, teams. Voters also look to character. Whatever the exact balance of criteria, winning Mr. Basketball is undoubtedly the dream of every basketball-playing kid in Indiana, and Notre Dame fans should be thrilled to welcome another Mr. Basketball to campus.