The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

April 11, 2013

Zeller declares for NBA

BLOOMINGTON — Indiana’s Cody Zeller turned down one chance to play in the NBA. He couldn’t say no twice.

The 7-foot sophomore center who returned to school last fall for one more shot at a national championship announced Wednesday he is leaving college early to enter the NBA draft. The reason was simple.

“The leaders that I came in looking up to and copying their work ethic were Vic, Christian (Watford), Jordan (Hulls), Derek (Elston), a lot of those older guys that are leaving now,” Zeller said explaining the difference between last year’s decision and this year’s. “IU will have a great year next year, but the guys I was closest to are graduating.” The decision was first announced on the website of his family’s business shortly before the news conference at Assembly Hall. Zeller said he was eager to start working with the Christian basketball camps being run by his parents and two older brothers, something the youngest Zeller said NCAA rules barred him from participating even though the organization is considered a nonprofit.

Zeller’s announcement came 24 hours after 6-foot-5 junior Victor Oladipo announced he was turning pro, too, in the exact same spot - at midcourt inside Assembly Hall with the school’s five national championship banners clearly visible in the background.

These Hoosiers wanted to add a sixth banner but that quest fell short when East Regional champion Syracuse beat the Hoosiers in the regional semifinals. Yet when Zeller walked off the court in Washington that night, he was already pretty sure he had played his last college game.

“After a while, you just kind of know,” he said when asked about the timing of his decision. “Barring injury, I kind of knew it might be my last year, so I enjoyed every minute of it. There was a sense of accomplishment playing my last game at Assembly Hall, playing in my last (NCAA) tournament.” The early departures mean Indiana will have a very different look from the teams that won 56 games and reached the NCAA tournament’s regional semifinals each of the last two seasons.

Coach Tom Crean must replace four 1,000-point scorers -- Hulls and Watford, both seniors, Oladipo and now Zeller. They were Indiana’s top four scorers last season and accounted for nearly two-thirds of the Hoosiers¹ points.

The cornerstone, though, was Zeller, the highly-touted high school player who turned down North Carolina and Butler to lay the groundwork in Crean’s grand rebuilding project.

Zeller lived up to the billing in almost every possible way. In the three years before Zeller’s arrival, Crean’s teams won just 28 games and didn¹t make a postseason appearance. With Zeller, the Hoosiers re-emerged as a Top 25 program, a Big Ten title contender and a player on the national stage. He finished with 1,157 career points and leaves as the Hoosiers’ career leader in field goal percentage (59.7 percent).

But the impact he made went far deeper than any numbers.

“What Cody means to Indiana, it’s much like Victor, it’s hard to describe it and it’s hard to put it into words, but what Cody has done has helped raise the level of every person in this program -- every coach, every player, every manager and that’s not an easy feat,” Crean said. “He’s really come in here and left his mark on this program and it’s one that will stand for a very, very long time.” Zeller is set to  become the third Zeller boy to play in the NBA. His oldest brother, Luke, spent part of this season with the Phoenix Suns and his other brother, Tyler, is becoming a key cog for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who just happened to be playing in Indianapolis on Tuesday night.

Cody Zeller could have been a lottery pick last season but returned to Bloomington heavier and stronger. All he did was lead the nation’s preseason No. 1 team in scoring (16.5 points), rebounding (8.1) and blocks (45) while shooting 56.2 percent from the field and 75.7 percent from the free throw line. Zeller even finished second on the team in steals (37).

But Zeller also found out how rugged life can be in the Big Ten when you’re the target. Only seven Division I players attempted more free throws during the regular season than Zeller’s 241 in 2012-13, and he often wound up crashing hard to the floor.

With scouts still projecting him as a lottery pick in June, Zeller made the safe choice.

“That’s basketball, (injuries) can happen at any time,” Zeller said. “It’s part of the game, part of what goes into the decision, and that was the risk of coming back this year, too.” Where exactly Zeller falls in the draft will likely be determined on the workout circuit. Zeller said he intends to trade notes with Oladipo as the two vie to be top-10 picks and promised to finish his degree by completing two summer sessions and six credits of online work.

While athletic 7-footers such as Zeller are a rare commodity, the transition from being known around as campus as “The Big Handsome” to being just another NBA rookie comes with many potential pitfalls. Some analysts believe Zeller still needs to get bigger and stronger and must figure out how to play through contact. And should Zeller need any additional advice on what it will take to make it, he can make a couple of phone calls.

“It’s a huge adjustment because you’re not always the biggest and strongest. You’re playing against grown men every night,” Tyler Zeller said after Wednesday night’s loss to the Pacers.

The youngest Zeller, Indiana’s 2011 Mr. Basketball and a three-time state champ, is ready to give it a try.

“I think the guys kind of expected it,” Zeller said. “The people who helped me the most, I asked them to put themselves in my shoes and asked what they would do. A lot of them, a lot of teammates told me they would go.”



 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Friday's police report CITY REPORT Friday 10:27 p.m. - Jerry Gaither, 1422 Brett Cabel Road, said his mailbox was damaged. 5:14 a.m. - Ladonna Abel, 622 S.W. Sixth St., said a purple Harley-Davidson motorcycle was stolen. A report was made and a tip said they believed a ma

    July 25, 2014

  • New school security system going into place in Daviess County From the outside looking in schools in Daviess County don't appear to have done much to upgrade security this fall. There are no new fences, no gates, no guard shacks, but officials say the School Guard system is being put into place and should be re

    July 25, 2014

  • NWS - WT072614 - Theater1 - NBS Coming Attractions Arguably the question on many minds in Washington is what's happening at the Indiana Theater? Many slow down or even stop on Main Street to see the work that is being done. Some have stopped to ask the contractors of SMart Construction to see what is

    July 25, 2014 6 Photos

  • Colts getting healthy as training camp opens ANDERSON — Reggie Wayne’s arrival Wednesday in an IndyCar driven by two- time Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Ed Carpenter drew national attention.But the most important news coming out of reporting day for the Indianapolis Colts concerned the wide rece

    July 25, 2014

  • TRI-CAP RSVP offering Nashville Show Trip TRI-CAP RSVP is sponsoring a Nashville Show Trip through Diamond Tours from Nov. 10-12. The spacious, video and restroom equipped motor coach will leave Jasper for a three day, two night trip. The incredible price of $305 per person is based on doubl

    July 25, 2014

  • Bixler DCCF grant Community Foundation awards grants to help youth A pair of projects designed to help take on some of the problems faced by youth in Daviess County will receive a financial boost from the Daviess County Community Foundation. The Daviess Community Hospital and southwest Indiana PowerHouse each receiv

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Friday's police report CITY REPORT Thursday 6:42 a.m. - Melissa Bath, 105 Mill St., reported her dog was stolen. Animal control was contacted. Wednesday 8:54 p.m. - A male caller said a black Pontiac convertible hit a utility pole near 810 W. Van Trees St. The driver is fa

    July 24, 2014

  • Old Settlers pic. Odon gets ready for Old Settlers ODON - The 159th Odon Old Settlers festival will kick off the morning of Aug. 5 with exhibits for the Floral Hall being accepted from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The event will run Aug. 5 -9. Projects in several different categories will be accepted. Monetar

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Expiring term heightens the urgency of lawmaker's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 24, 2014

  • Thursday's police report CITY REPORT Wednesday 11:28 a.m. - A female caller, 820 Axtel Ave., said a license plate was taken from her vehicle the night before. The tailgate was also scratched. 10:17 a.m. - An employee of Personal Finance Company said a female had parked her v

    July 23, 2014