Mar 23, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller (40) shoots the ball over New York Knicks forward Amar

Tyler Zeller or Sean May: Who Had Better Carolina Career?

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Both Sean May and Tyler Zeller won National Championships at Carolina.  They were 2nd team All-Americans and both have gone on to play in the NBA.  Both centers/forwards were very successful at Carolina, but which player had a better Tar Heel career? To decide, let’s first dive into the resumes of the two Carolina stars.

Tyler Zeller Resume:

117 games played, 12.8 points/game, 6.7 rebounds/game, 0.6 assists/game, 1.1 blocks/game

Zeller played four years at North Carolina, and won a National Championship his Freshman year (although he did not have a large role that season).  He was a 2nd team All-American his senior season, when he was also named ACC Player of the Year.

“You’re talking about a guy who’s perfect.  … There’s not been one time that I’ve ever been mad at Tyler Zeller.  And the number of times I’ve been mad at his actions have been few and far between.”  –Roy Williams via TarHeelTimes.com 
 Zeller was a very solid offensive threat his junior and senior years.  He lead the ACC in field goal percentage his junior year, and was second in that category the following year.  He also lead the league in rebounding his senior year.  He finished in the top five in the ACC in points twice, and points per game, rebounds per game and blocks one time each.

Sean May Resume:

77 games played, 15.8 points/game, 10.0 rebounds/game, 1.5 assists/game,  1.3 blocks/game

May played three years at Carolina, and played a big part in leading the Heels to the National Championship in the 2004-05 season.  When North Carolina won the National Title, May was named NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, to go along with his 2nd team All-America selection and 1st team all-ACC selection.


May led the league in field goals and rebounds his senior season.  In all three of his seasons at Carolina, he finished in the top 3 in the ACC in rebounding and was top five in rebounds per game twice, and points, points per game and field goal percentage one time each.

Who Was Better?

No disrespect to Tyler Zeller, but this comparison wasn’t particularly close.  Zeller had a very good career at Carolina, but, in my opinion, Sean May is the 2nd best center (behind Tyler Hansbrough) to play in the Roy Williams Era.  Not only did Sean May have better stats in almost every category than Zeller, May lead the Heels to a National Championship.  Zeller did win a National Championship with North Carolina, but he appeared in just 15 games, scoring 3.1 points a game, during that season.

May, on the other hand, was a huge reason why North Carolina won the 2005 title, with his 26 points and 10 rebounds in the 2005 title game.  May stepped up and brought home a trophy for North Carolina, which Zeller was not able to do in the last two years of his career, when he was the team leader.  To me, leading a team to a trophy is more important than any personal stats, which is why Sean May had the better Carolina career.

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Tags: Basketball North Carolina Tar Heels Sean May Tyler Zeller

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