For IU fans, the immediate reaction to the news that sophomore Cody Zeller and junior Victor Oladipo will both enter the 2013 NBA Draft is one of a bittersweet nature.
On one hand, it’s hard to escape the thought of what next season could have looked like had the two All-Americans opted to return for another crack at a national championship. It’s been 26 years since the last national title in Bloomington and the thirst for a sixth banner is undeniable.
But there’s also a sense of pride in knowing that two of the best ambassadors the program has ever seen will get a chance to continue doing what they love and make a living out of it. Both players are expected to be lottery picks and that’s an opportunity that must be taken advantage of when it arises. Oladipo will leave with a degree and Zeller will finish his in short order.
As we move into a new chapter of Indiana basketball that begins now, it’s important to examine the role both Oladipo and Zeller had in the revival and how their early departures, as difficult as they’ll be to overcome next season, are a positive for the long term health of the program.
When Zeller signed his Letter of Intent in November of 2010, he was instantly anointed as the savior. The fact that he spurned North Carolina, a program that at the time was coming off two national championships in the last six years, was significant. It validated what Tom Crean was building in Bloomington with an elite recruit, even if the on court results had yet to materialize. And maybe more importantly, he paved the way for other kids from the state to follow him to IU.
By the time Indiana tipped off the 2011-2012 season, the enormous expectations placed upon Zeller would have been enough to crack most 18-year olds. This wasn’t a batch of McDonald’s All-Americans arriving in Bloomington. It was one McDonald’s All-American who wasn’t going to be able to ease his way into fray of the nation’s most physical conference. Indiana had to win and win big. And it did, largely because Zeller didn’t play like a freshman. He didn’t feel the expectations or the pressure. He just played and did so brilliantly.
Zeller to announce “future plans” today, expected to enter NBA Draft
A day after junior All-American Victor Oladipo announced he would forgo his senior season and declare for the 2013 NBA Draft, Indiana is expected to lose another All-American early to the NBA.
Sophomore Cody Zeller, according to reports by Bob Kravitz and Dustin Dopirak, will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and enter the 2013 NBA Draft.
The announcement is expected to take place at approximately 4:10 p.m. at Assembly Hall and will be shown live on IUHoosiers.com.
An IU spokesperson said the press conference will discuss Zeller’s “future plans,” the same wording used leading up to Oladipo’s announcement.
Zeller is projected as a lottery pick in several mock drafts, with DraftExpress.com ranking him as the No. 6 overall prospect.
The 7-foot big man was a second team AP All-American and averaged 16.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks and shot 56.2 percent from the field as a sophomore.
Zeller’s departure means that Indiana is now at 14 scholarship players for the 2013-2014 season.
That’s A Wrap: Will Sheehey
Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Will Sheehey.
Sheehey (36 games): 9.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 48.6% FG, 34.6% 3PFG, 65.6% FT in 22.3 minutes per game.
Much was expected from Will Sheehey coming into the season and, for the most part, he delivered. Indiana coach Tom Crean referred to him as a “sixth starter” many times throughout the year, and Sheehey performed like a starter at times. He scored in double figures in 17 games, and posted a season-high 22 points on 9-of-9 shooting against Purdue on Feb. 16.
Sheehey’s was the team’s energizer bunny off the bench, and he was never afraid to mix it up a bit if he felt it was necessary. It’s safe to say he wasn’t exactly a fan favorite around the Big Ten, but that’s a role Sheehey relished and thrived in.
His mid-range jump shot continued to be a major strength, but he scored the majority of his baskets this season off cuts to the basket. Sheehey is one of the best players in the country at moving without the ball, and he caught defenses sleeping time and again throughout the season.
If there was a disappointing part about Sheehey’s season, it had to be his shooting inconsistency and his defense. Sheehey showed an ability to knock down 3-pointers — sometimes in bunches (See: North Carolina) — but he wasn’t nearly as consistent from beyond the arc as Crean would have liked.
Before the season, Crean called Sheehey one of the team’s best two defenders, putting him in the same category with Victor Oladipo. But Sheehey’s defense took a step back from a year ago (in this writer’s opinion), especially his on-ball defense. Sheehey struggled to guard quicker guys like Butler Rotnei Clarke, and crafty guys like Temple’s Khalif Wyatt.
It was the right decision, and it came as little surprise. But nevertheless, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo officially announced on Tuesday afternoon that he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27.
“I swayed back and forth, especially throughout the season,” Oladipo said at a press conference on the Assembly Hall floor. “I just felt like this is what was best for my family.
“I’ll always be a Hoosier until the day I die.”
Oladipo, a first team All-American, is projected to be a lottery pick by nearly every NBA draft expert, and is currently No. 5 in Chad Ford’s latest mock draft for ESPN. He will graduate with a bachelor’s degree on May 4, his 21st birthday.
“I truly support what he’s doing,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “There’s no question that he’s got the physical abilities, the mental capacity, maturity and focus, the emotional well being and spiritual background to go put himself in the position to take this next step.”
There’s no doubt the Hoosiers take a hit because of Oladipo’s decision. He, along with Cody Zeller, played a large role in helping Indiana return to the elite level. It will be impossible to replace him on next year’s team.
But what should not be lost in all of this is the way in which Oladipo accomplished what he did. He did it the right way. He came in as an under-recruited athlete, worked tirelessly, became a basketball player, grew into a leader, earned his degree, and then left.
Over the years, college basketball seems to have gone in the wrong direction. But in almost every way, Oladipo represents what is still right about the college game.
HD Video: Victor Oladipo declares for the 2013 NBA Draft
Victor Oladipo and Tom Crean met with the media this afternoon to announce Oladipo’s decision to forgo his senior season and enter the 2013 NBA Draft.
Watch and listen to the entire press conference in the embedded media player below:
Victor Oladipo declares for 2013 NBA Draft
UPDATE: In a news conference on Branch McCracken Court at Assembly Hall, Victor Oladipo announced that he will forgo his senior year at Indiana and enter the 2013 NBA Draft.
“It’s been an honor to play here at Indiana, to grow as a human being, as a man and as a basketball player, but I will be entering the NBA Draft,” Oladipo told reporters. “It’s a honor. To be an Indiana Hoosier means so much to me and I will always be an Indiana Hoosier. This is my home. I love this place. I love the fans, I love the people.”
Press conference audio:
We’ll have more on this developing story.
Indiana fans won’t have to wait much longer to learn what’s next for All-American guard Victor Oladipo.
The 6-foot-5 junior from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, will announce his “future plans” in a 4 p.m. news conference today at Assembly Hall. He will be joined by Tom Crean.
Oladipo averaged 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game and shot 59.9 percent as a junior and was the first IU player to be named a first team Associated Press All-American since A.J. Guyton in 2000.
He was also The Sporting News national player of the year.
That’s A Wrap: Remy Abell
Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Remy Abell.
Abell (36 games): 4.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.9 apg, 46.9% FG, 48.5% 3PFG, 75.0% FT in 12.5 minutes per game.
What a start to the season for Remy Abell.
In the Hoosiers’ exhibition win against Indiana Wesleyan, he posted a line of seven points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal in just 13 minutes.
“We’ve gotta get Remy to go from flashes to consistency,” Crean said after the game. “He’s one of the most well-loved guys in that locker room. He’s a great kid, great personality, incredibly hard-working student. And I don’t think he’s scratching the surface of how good he can be when he’s out on the court. And that’s what we need from him.”
The Louisville Eastern product kept things going. He made all seven of his field goal attempts in wins against Bryant and North Dakota State — which included five from distance. Add in a 7-of-8 effort from the line and the sophomore posted back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts (12 points, 14 points) in Indiana’s first two games of the year. By November’s end, Abell was shooting a crisp 58.3 percent from the field. Abell posted two more perfect efforts from the field in December (4-of-4 against Coppin St., 5-of-5 against Mount St. Mary’s) and his shooting through the first two months of the season remained pretty steady (53.8 percent). He was hitting 57.8 percent from distance.
It seemed as if Abell had only built upon his increased playing time and confidence in the absence of Verdell Jones III during last season’s NCAA Tournament run, and was primed to give Indiana a nice lift off the bench heading into the Big Ten season.
Video: Stanford Robinson National High School Invitational highlights
2013 IU signee Stanford Robinson recorded a late steal and a block to seal his Findlay Prep team’s 57-53 win over Montrose on Thursday in the National High School Invitational. But Robinson’s 13 points on Friday against St Benedict’s came in a loss (60-57), one that snapped Findlay Prep’s remarkable 54-game win streak.
A look at Robinson’s highlights from both games:
That’s A Wrap: Cody Zeller
Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Cody Zeller.
Zeller (36 games): 16.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 bpg, 1.0 spg, 56.2% FG, 75.7% FT in 29.5 minutes per game.
Few players in college basketball this season were discussed and dissected as much as Cody Zeller. Coming into a year where Indiana was the nation’s preseason No. 1 team, Zeller was showered with various accolades and preseason player of the year awards. If the Hoosiers were to make a run into late March and early April, the belief was that Zeller would be the guy leading the way.
Indiana’s run ended in Washington D.C. in the Sweet Sixteen, and, viewed through a lens of such lofty expectations, Zeller’s season was unfairly characterized by some as a disappointment in part because he was overshadowed at times by a teammate, Victor Oladipo, and didn’t play well against Syracuse.
The truth is, it was far from a disappointment.
Whether Zeller opts for the NBA Draft or returns for his junior season, he’s already established himself as one of the best big men to ever play at Indiana. His sophomore season was once again efficient as he shot better than 56 percent from the field, posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 73.2 percent and was the best transition big man in the country. His shooting percentage took a dip from his freshman season, but he also used more possessions as the focal point as one of the nation’s best offenses. When that offense was operating at its best, it was playing through Zeller first, which created opportunities for others on the floor.
Zeller also showed improvement as a rebounder, increasing his per-game average by 1.5 and bolstering his offensive and defensive rebounding percentages. He had 11 games with 10 or more rebounds, up from five as a freshman.
But beyond the statistics, there were moments where Zeller stepped up and made plays when Indiana needed him the most.
Most notably, his six points in the final 52 seconds of a 72-71 win at Michigan on March 10 lifted the Hoosiers to an outright Big Ten title for the first time in 20 years. He also took a key charge late in a win at home over Michigan State and chased down a pivotal loose ball rebound in front of the IU bench in a win over the Wolverines at Assembly Hall. In five games against teams ranked in the top 10, IU finished 5-0 and Zeller averaged 20.6 points and 7.8 rebounds.
NBA Draft decisions looming for Oladipo and Zeller
Indiana fans will soon learn the status of All-Americans Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo as it pertains to the 2013 NBA Draft.
Both players are projected as lottery picks in mock drafts and according to multiple reports, will announce their intentions for next season this coming week.
The NCAA’s deadline to withdraw from the draft is April 16, but the NBA’s deadline to enter is April 28, which means the NCAA date is only relevant for those who declare and then wish to withdraw and retain their eligibility.
In an interview on Saturday with Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star, IU coach Tom Crean said that both players have put in paperwork with the NBA’s undergraduate advisory committee to receive feedback on their draft status.
The deadline for receiving a response from the undergraduate advisory committee is April 15, one day before the NCAA deadline to withdraw from the draft.
Projections for both players continue to vary, but every major projection has both in the lottery, which includes the top 13 picks.
First round picks receive a guaranteed three-year contract with a team option for a fourth season. Compensation for rookies in the 2012-2013 NBA season ranged from $4.28 million for the No. 1 pick to $2.55 million for the No. 6 pick to $1.59 million for the No. 13 pick.
In the immediate aftermath of Indiana’s Sweet Sixteen loss to Syracuse on March 28, neither player was prepared talk about the draft.