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Brothers Armoni, Zakai Zeigler to face off in NCAA Tournament
Credit: Vincent Carchietta & Randy Sartin/USA TODAY Sports

Brothers Armoni, Zakai Zeigler to face off in NCAA Tournament

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BVM) – There is a thread tying the St. Peter’s Peacocks and Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball programs before their matchup during the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 on Thursday. Both teams deploy a member of the same family as Peacocks true freshman guard Armoni Zeigler is the half-brother of Volunteers junior guard Zakai Zeigler.

The two have taken similar paths to the NCAA Tournament as well. The 5-foot-9 Zakai was under-recruited coming out of Our Savior Lutheran School in New York. He earned two commit-or-lose-it offers from Bryant and, funnily enough, St. Peter’s following his senior year. However, a breakout performance during the 2021 Peach Jam yielded multiple offers for Zakai including Boston College, Minnesota and Tennessee.

He joined the Vols in August of that year and has found nothing but success in Knoxville. Over three years, Zakai has averaged 10.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds while playing exceptional defense over 97 games with 42 starts. He has earned numerous accolades including All-SEC defensive team three times, All-SEC freshman team, All-SEC second team, All-SEC first team (coaches), and 2024 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Zakai Zeigler Tennessee Volunteers basketball
Feb 24, 2024; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Zakai Zeigler (5) reacts after a play against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center. (Credit: Randy Sartin/USA TODAY Sports)

Much like his older half-brother, Armoni also found recruiting to be a difficult process. The 6-foot-4 guard also played at Our Savior Lutheran School and only earned six D-I offers from Albany, Bryant, Denver, Northern Illinois, Nebraska and St. Peter’s. He ultimately chose the Peacocks and has found some early success with the program.

Armoni Zeigler St Peters Peacocks basketball
Nov 6, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Seton Hall Pirates center Jaden Bediako (15) battles for a rebound against St. Peter’s Peacocks guard Armoni Zeigler (5) during the first half at Prudential Center. (Credit: Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

As a true freshman this season, Armoni has averaged 6.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists while playing in all 32 of St. Peter’s games with 10 starts. One of his highlights was even featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 in January.

The two have always been close, which is no surprise given their love for basketball. When Zakai’s mother lost the family home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the elder Zeigler stayed with his brother’s step-dad and mom for nearly three months, deepening their love for each other during one of the hardest times of their lives.

While the Volunteers come in as a heavy favorite, the Peacocks know a thing or two about March Madness victories as shown by their Cinderella run last year. Regardless of the outcome Thursday, the Zeigler family will come out happy and continue to cheer on whichever brother makes it to the Round of 32.

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