Andrew Zarzour always figured he would be tall. His father, Phillip, stands 6-7 and his mom, Elizabeth, is just a shade under 6-0. Both were star athletes for the Bunn Wildcats, a rural 1A high school located in central North Carolina, about a 45-minute drive from Raleigh. And both had passed on their height genes to Andrew's older sister, Mary Katherine, who also neared 6-0 and earned a scholarship to play hoops at Peace College in Raleigh.
But Andrew never dreamed he'd top out over 7-0. He was 6-2 as a high school freshman and actually played point guard on the Bunn junior varsity team early in the season. He quickly moved up to varsity — and quickly outgrew several pairs of high tops over the coming year.
It was like someone put human Miracle Grow into his food. He stood a long and lanky 6-7 by his sophomore season and sprouted up to 6-11 going into his junior year. By his senior season with the Wildcats he crossed the magical 7-0 plateau. And he had filled out a decent amount, so that he weighed in the 210-215 range.
It seemed with every inch Zarzour grew, the number of college basketball coaches and scouts spotted in the little community of Bunn in Franklin County increased exponentially. Fans are still talking about the cold, steely stares that Coach K from Duke and Bill Guthridge from rival Carolina (who had just taken over for the legendary Dean Smith) exchanged when running into each other in a crowded Bunn High gym lobby one winter evening.
While Zarzour thrived in basketball, keeping a lot of the guard skills he had gained as a "little guy," baseball remained his first love. He spent a lot of time working on his pitching mechanics during hoops season, even when that meant tossing old beat-up baseballs through a tire or into a net on his family farm on frigid mornings or late at night after games.
And the baseball scouts flocked to his hometown to see "Andrew The Giant" as well, especially when word got around that he threw a 98 mph pitch during an Easter tournament game as a junior and consistently stayed in the high-80s to low-90s with his fastball.
College basketball and baseball coaches sometimes came together to Zarzour's school, offering "package deals" — incentives for him to do both sports at the next level. NC State hoops coach Herb Sendek and baseball coach Elliot Avent invited Zarzour to be the next Tim Stoddard, who enjoyed a successful Major League pitching career after helping lead the 1974 Wolfpack to an NCAA basketball title.
"I'll think about it," Zarzour told them politely "I really will."
It was his gentlemanly way of saying, "No way, Jose!"