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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Zeigler turns down big boys to play for father at CMU

When Trey Zeigler first arrived in Michigan, he was arriving from Los Angeles, where he'd already separated himself as an up-and-coming basketball star. And he was going to Mount Pleasant, population 25,000, where his father Ernie had just become the new men's basketball coach at Central Michigan University.

It wasn't just his big feet that marked the eighth-grader as a potential big fish in a little pond.

Shoot, the two high school basketball coaching staffs in town even got into a minor squabble in the audience at his father's introductory press conference, arguing over who was going to get Trey, once he entered high school.

Highly-sought after doesn't even begin to explain it.

Flash forward four years, and every college coach in America was after the 6-foot-5 shooting guard, ranked among the nation's best players by all the recruiting services. His father's old boss, UCLA coach Ben Howland, wanted Zeigler to come back to La-La Land. Before directing the Blue Devils to another national title, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski first got directions to one of Zeigler's games. MSU's Tom Izzo figured Zeigler could be the next in a line of great Saginaw Valley League players to don the big green Spartan 'S,' while Michigan coach John Beilein thought Zeigler would be the perfect fit in Maize and Blue to replace the recently-departed Manny Harris.

One guy didn't really sell his program hard to Zeigler: His own dad.

"My dad was hands-off the whole time, just being a dad. He went on most of the visits with me, and he just looked at it from a dad's standpoint, where he thought I'd fit best," said the younger Zeigler, shortly after making the announcement of his college choice on live TV from a lawyer's office in Southfield, "and when it came down to it, the last month is really when he started telling me how much he wanted me to be here. So that helped a lot, letting him let me figure things out on my own."

What he figured out — eventually — was something that would have come as a complete shock to the 15-year-old that first came to Mount Pleasant: Staying put was a pretty good option.
"I'll be honest with you — I never really thought this was an option," said Zeigler with a laugh.

Until now.

Zeigler's announced choice of CMU, unveiled when he pulled a maroon cap on his head on ESPNU, will be confirmed this morning, when he signs his National Letter of Intent at a second ceremony at his high school.

It took a lot for Zeigler to turn down the offers from all the big schools, especially some of the in-state powers he'd come to admire in his time in Michigan.

"Michigan is a great program, and I love coach Beilein and coach (Mike) Jackson, and they did a great job with recruiting me — and if my dad wasn't a coach anywhere, that's probably where I'd be," Zeigler admitted.

His story is eerily similar to that of his close friend, Ray McCallum, the star point guard from Birmingham Detroit Country Day. McCallum turned down offers from bigger programs to play for his own father at University of Detroit Mercy, filming his own ESPNU segment in the same TV studio just minutes before Zeigler.

For the full story of how the two families — fathers and sons — made their way through the awkward recruiting process together, stay tuned to the college section of

Listen to Zeigler's comments from Wednesday's event below.

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