The Milwaukee Bucks’ quest for a big man resumes Thursday.

The Bucks, who have been in the market for a center since trading Andrew Bogut to Golden State in March, will be working out several centers at their training facility in St. Francis.

One of them is Tyler Zeller of North Carolina who, according to several NBA officials, is on the Bucks’ short list of candidates for their first-round pick, the 12th overall.

Zeller enjoyed a stellar senior season with the Tar Heels, averaging 16.3 points and 9.6 rebounds. While not an elite athlete, Zeller is fundamentally-sound and possesses a solid all-around game.

Zeller is also coming off an impressive performance at last week’s pre-draft combine in Chicago. At the combine, Zeller had a sit-down meeting with Bucks officials. Zeller said Bucks coach Scott Skiles, also an Indiana native, teased him about going to North Carolina instead of Indiana.

Zeller, who is 6 feet, 11½ inches and weighs 247 pounds, and Illinois’ Meyers Leonard — the tallest player in the draft at 6-11¾ — are generally regarded as the Bucks’ top two draft prospects.

Bucks officials will also be checking out another potential first-round center Thursday in Fab Melo of Syracuse, along with Kyle O’Quinn of Norfolk State, who is likely to be available when the Bucks make their second-round selection.


Besides Leonard and Zeller, the Bucks have apparently zeroed in on North Carolina power forward John Henson, Baylor power forward Perry Jones and Washington shooting guard Terrence Ross for their top pick.

Henson, Jones and Ross are expected to work out for the Bucks next week.

-- Three state players — Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor — enhanced their draft prospects at the combine.

Johnson-Odom, considered a mid-to-late second-round pick, had the best maximum vertical jump at 41.5 inches.

Crowder, considered a late-first to early-second round pick, was first in bench press reps with 20. Johnson-Odom was fifth with 17.

Taylor, considered a late second-round pick, had the second-best lane agility drill at 10.57 seconds. Baylor’s Quincy Acy was first at 10.48.

A total of 60 players participated in the combine.

-- Duke center Miles Plumlee said he has made periodic trips to Wisconsin. His mother, Leslie, is from Neenah and his grandfather, Bud Schultz, still lives there. … Bucks general manager John Hammond’s name has surfaced as a candidate to replace Rod Thorn as the Philadelphia 76ers’ president and general manager. Danny Ferry is considered the frontrunner for the job. Hammond has one year remaining on his contract with the Bucks. … Some blue-chip players will become available on July 1 and so will one Grade-A coach: Scott Brooks of Oklahoma City. One would assume Brooks will re-sign with the Thunder, although I have heard that is far from being a slam dunk. … Several NBA scouts have told me Baylor’s Perry Jones reminds them of former Buck forward Tim Thomas, for good and bad. … Ex-Badger Brian Butch, now fully healthy after having knee surgery, will be playing for the Atlanta Hawks in the Las Vegas Summer League. … So which team has allegedly “promised” to take Syracuse guard Dion Waiters. I’ve been told by two NBA officials that it is the Phoenix Suns, who pick right after the Bucks. … I can never ever remember when the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the NBA drafted has waited this long to sign with an agent or agency. But Kentucky’s Anthony Davis is still mulling his choices, apparently between the Wasserman Media Group, Creative Artists Agency and Bill Duffy’s BDA Sports. ... The Bucks are keeping the door open to possibly re-sign unrestricted free-agent in-waiting Kwame Brown. … While the Phil Jackson to New York and Orlando rumors have died down, I’m still hearing the Zen Master is receptive to coming out of retirement and could return to the NBA season in a consulting role.


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