Tyler Zeller’s preseason was a total washout.
Just when the second-year center wanted to show his improved skills from the offseason, he suffered a left hip flexor in the Wine & Gold Scrimmage. He showed up the next day and was rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy.
The 7-foot, 253-pounder has been cleared to play, but is trying to get back in NBA shape.
“(My) conditioning is terrible,” he said. “I hate getting in shape. This is probably the first time I’ve been completely out of shape in a few years. It’s not fun getting back in shape.”
It has been 20 days since he had surgery. He was available to play in Wednesday’s game.
Zeller said he’s adjusting to playing at game speed. That can’t be simulated in practice or scrimmages.
“I have to make up for lost time, and that’s difficult,” he said. “Hopefully, I can do it quick.”
Brown said the North Carolina product is a big body with great feet.
“I expect for him to be a big-time threat when it comes to running the floor (and) setting screens,” he said.
Brown said Zeller reminds him of former Pacers center Jeff Foster.
“He’s not quite as athletic, but he’s similar in agility as a guy I coached in Indiana named Jeff Foster,” Brown said. “He’s more skilled than Jeff. But you talk about a big, long, lanky body that has some size with good feet, that’s what Tyler is. When he rolls, he can put some hurt on people who try to step in his way.”