Christian Watford Archive

Draft watch: Oladipo’s stock on the rise

IUUNCITH0012The last time Indiana had two first round NBA Draft picks was in 2008, which followed one of the most tumultuous seasons in school history. In June of 2008, both Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers) and D.J. White (Detroit Pistons, traded to Oklahoma City Thunder) both had their names called by David Stern.

Could the Hoosiers be on their way to multiple first round picks again this summer? Inside the Hall takes a look at the current stock of IU’s potential draft candidates:

Cody Zeller
ESPN: (5) Draft Express: (3) NBADraft.net: (1)

· Analysis: Despite taking criticism from some in the national media for not being dominant enough through IU’s first 14 games, Zeller’s position is still in the top five of just about every mock draft out there. He’s easily the most effective running big man in college basketball and is incredibly polished for a seven-footer who just turned 20. His numbers may not make the dramatic jump that some were expecting because of IU’s incredible balance on offense, but you get the feeling that Zeller’s best basketball is still ahead of him this season.

· Expert opinion: “He runs the floor, he can play center and power forward. He’s not gonna have a major impact as far as scoring, but he’s going to have a major impact as far as being a team player because he’s got it all. He can block shots, he runs the floor, he’s got pretty decent moves, he can shoot a little bit. I think he’s going to be a really, really good player immediately for an NBA team.” – NBA scout to Inside the Hall’s Justin Albers

Victor Oladipo
ESPN: (31) Draft Express: (28) NBADraft.net: (34)

· Analysis: Oladipo has been called IU’s best player so far this season and that’s a fair analysis given how he’s impacted the game on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he’s continued to relentlessly attack the rim and convert, but he’s also mixed in a more reliable perimeter shot that makes him more attractive to the next level. Defensively, Oladipo is building a list of top scorers on the opposition that he’s been able to take out of games. Given how much he’s improved in his 30 months in Bloomington, there’s no reason to believe Oladipo shouldn’t continue to get better for the foreseeable future.

· Expert opinion: “Love him. One of my favorite players in the country. He’s gonna be a first round pick in this year’s draft. If he can convince scouts that his 45% shooting from beyond the arc isn’t a fluke — lottery isn’t out of the question.” – ESPN.com’s Chad Ford

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Five takeaways from Indiana’s win at Iowa

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(Photo credit: Associated Press)

Indiana closed out 2012 on Monday afternoon with a critical 69-65 road win at Iowa to open the Big Ten season. Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Hoosiers’ 13th win of the season:

· This was IU’s most important win so far: Yes, wins over Georgetown and North Carolina might be “better” in terms of bolstering the NCAA Tournament resume, but given how the Hoosiers started out on the road in the Big Ten a season ago (1-5), it’s fair to call this the most important win so far this season. Indiana, despite its resurgence in 2011-2012 that culminated with a Sweet 16 appearance, finished just 3-6 away from Assembly Hall in conference play. For a team with Big Ten title aspirations, 3-6 isn’t going to get the job done. Even though it was just the first conference game, a loss in Iowa City could have ultimately been the difference between a conference title and finishing as a runner-up. The performance wasn’t pretty, but it builds confidence going into the next three road games, which are games IU needs to take: Penn State, Northwestern and Purdue.

· Christian Watford wasn’t the difference, but he was critical: Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are Indiana’s two best players, but in yesterday’s first half, Christian Watford came up big. The 6-foot-9 forward from Birmingham, who has been notoriously inconsistent throughout his career, had eight points and four rebounds in 15 first half minutes. And as his teammates shot just 1-of-5 from distance in the first half, Watford hit 2-of-3 of his attempts from beyond the arc. Both were in critical spots. After a shaky start that included a missed shot by Zeller followed by a Zeller turnover, Watford knocked in the game’s first points on IU’s third possession. Watford’s second trey gave IU its largest lead of the first half at 29-20 at the 3:11 mark. While it’s impossible to know what to expect from Watford on a game-to-game basis, IU has to be hopeful that yesterday’s performance is the norm rather than the exception.

· Jordan Hulls shot 0-for-10 and still played winning basketball: The same can’t be said for Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble, who shot 1-of-14 and would have been far better served getting the ball to Aaron White and Mike Gesell rather than forcing contested shots. Hulls, on the other hand, took mostly shots in the flow of the offense that just weren’t falling. And despite going scoreless, he filled out the rest of the stat sheet nicely in 22 minutes: six assists, three rebounds, two steals and no turnovers. It’ll be a shock if Hulls goes scoreless again the rest of the way, but Monday afternoon showed that he can still be a productive player even without scoring.

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The Minute After: Iowa

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Thoughts on a 69-65 win against the Hawkeyes:

I. Had Iowa made more shots (just 33.3 percent from the field and a horrific 17.6 percent (3-of-17) from beyond the arc), had a few possessions turned one way instead of the other, Indiana would be sitting at 0-1 on the Big Ten season and still unable to figure out the Carver-Hawkeye Arena puzzle in the Tom Crean era. But alas, the Hoosiers escape Iowa City on the eve of 2013 with the W. At times, it felt like Indiana was about to punch this one out far enough that a comfortable lead and victory was just over the horizon. The Hoosiers would go up six points off some quick buckets. But Iowa, behind a raucous sold out crowd that certainly sounded quite loud on the TV, just wouldn’t allow it … all the way to the final buzzer. Fran McCaffery and Tom Crean were switching defenses, from zone to man and back again — two generals switching up strategy, trying to slow down and negate what the other was doing.

Though, the question was asked on Twitter and by Dan Dakich on the call: Just why was Indiana playing so much zone against this Hawkeye team? Was it really necessary? Dakich came through with an explanation in the second half: Iowa was shooting the ball so badly — and a zone, provided you don’t put a man in the middle and get easy looks at the basket or in the paint (which Iowa was able to do a healthy amount of times) — makes you shoot jumpers. Because check this: After starting the second half hot and hitting nine of their first 10 attempts, the Hawkeyes only went 3-of-19 the rest of the way.

Tough to win in such a fashion, even with Indiana scoring under a point per possession in this one (.943) and having some turnover issues (15 miscues for a turnover percentage of 20.5 percent).

Indiana was able to hold court thanks to getting to the line and converting at a decent clip (11-of-16 in the second half after just going 2-of-2 in the first) and well, having the best player on the court in this one: Victor Oladipo.

II. Speaking of Oladipo, it is becoming clearer and clearer with each game this season: No one is more important to this team’s success. He is a rock on both ends of the floor. He guards multiple positions. He gets to the basket; he has an improved jumper that is falling. And he has, for the most part, been immune to stretches of poor play and disappearing acts like some of his teammates. Oladipo scored 14 points — none bigger than his putback after a Cody Zeller miss with 1:03 to go to put Indiana up 65-60, a stretch in which Indiana had possession of the ball for 62 seconds. The junior wing also had 10 boards.

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Notebook: Hoosiers outmuscled on the glass

INDIANAPOLIS — Cody Zeller didn’t provide much of an answer when he was asked about Indiana’s effort on the glass in Saturday’s 88-86 overtime loss to Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

While the final rebounding numbers showed Butler with just a 40-38 edge overall, the Hoosiers (9-1) allowed Butler to rebound 48.1 of its misses, a season-high for an IU opponent.

Indiana came into the game allowing an offensive rebounding percentage of just 26.4, which ranked 20th in the country.

When asked how he and his teammates allowed Butler to grab 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, IU’s star sophomore offered little in terms of an explanation.

“I don’t know, we’ve gotta figure it out,” Zeller said.

It sounds like the Hoosiers may begin to figure it out sooner rather than later.

“I’m excited about the rebounding drills we’re gonna do,” Crean said. “I’m not sure there will be many people that will be sharing that joy with me, but I know I’ll be excited about it because, right now, that’s an area we’ve got to really shore up.”

Butler’s success on the offensive glass led to 27 second-chance points and despite giving up some size across the frontline, the Bulldogs (8-2) won the points in the paint battle 42-32.

Crean didn’t point to one area in particular that contributed to the Hoosiers’ struggles on the glass, but it was clear that he saw rebounding as a major factor in the outcome.

“I think we’re going to be disappointed with some of our contact on the block outs,” he said. “Some balls bounced wrong that we’ve just got to go up with two hands and get ’em. But that’s not an excuse for us in the fact that we didn’t rebound well enough.”

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Film Session: Watford’s big night

In his last four outings before Saturday night’s 21-point, 8-of-12 outburst against Central Connecticut State, senior Christian Watford was just 11 of his last 36, including a 1-of-9 performance against North Carolina and a 3-of-10 outing against Georgetown in Brooklyn.

Watford was helped along against the Blue Devils by getting three wide-open 3-pointers, all of which he hit. But he also showed some aggression in the halfcourt by flashing to open spots and getting some buckets in pick-and-roll action.

A look at four such plays in the latest edition of Film Session.

I. Watford misses his only contested 3-pointer of the evening:

Cody Zeller gets the rebound and sees Jordan Hulls on the right wing:

Hulls has the option to kick it back up top to Yogi Ferrell or hit Watford in the lane, who fills the gap there and calls for the ball. Hulls opts for Yogi:

The Blue Devils are able to recover out and get a body on Ferrell, but he quickly comes right and starts to turn the corner. Watford is still lurking in the paint. Victor Oladipo, on the left block, is also another open option here:

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HD Video: Oladipo, Watford and Zeller react to win over CCSU

Christian Watford (21 points, five rebounds), Victor Oladipo (15 points, nine rebounds, five steals, three blocks, two assists) and Cody Zeller (19 points and 19 rebounds) met with the media following Indiana’s 100-69 win over Central Connecticut State on Saturday at Assembly Hall.

Watch and listen to the press conference in the embedded media player below:

Select quotes available after the jump.

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NBA scout weighs-in on Zeller, Oladipo and Watford

(Editor’s note: This story originally appeared Saturday morning on the Inside the Hall premium forum. The forum features an exclusive weekly insider report and additional content, weekly live chats with the staff, advanced notice of blog content, discounts on IU apparel and an active message board community for less than .10 cents a day. Sign up here.)

I spoke to an NBA scout this morning about his thoughts on Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford, and their stocks for the next level.

First, on Zeller. Even though some early mock drafts put UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad and Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel ahead of him, the NBA scout doesn’t see it going that way. Assuming, of course, that Zeller exits school after his sophomore year.

“I don’t see how Zeller isn’t the No. 1 pick,” the scout said. “He’s the best all-around player for a big guy, and the NBA is desperate for big guys. He’s a good kid, the NBA is totally desperate for good kids. I just can’t see that guy not being the No. 1 pick.

“I saw Nerlens, and he is going to be an NBA player. He’s extremely long, he has a good jumper, but no he’s not as skilled as Zeller.”

The scout said he doesn’t know whether Zeller can be a franchise-changing player when he comes out, but he believes he’ll be a productive NBA player.

“He runs the floor, he can play center and power forward,” he said. “He’s not gonna have a major impact as far as scoring, but he’s going to have a major impact as far as being a team player because he’s got it all. He can block shots, he runs the floor, he’s got pretty decent moves, he can shoot a little bit. I think he’s going to be a really, really good player immediately for an NBA team.”

There has been some speculation — mostly because of Indiana’s complicated scholarship situation for next year — that Oladipo may put his name in the hat for the NBA Draft after this season. Oladipo has certainly improved a lot early this season, but he’s still not a consistent shooter from the outside.

The NBA scout I spoke to sees Oladipo as an NBA talent, but he doesn’t see him leaving early.

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Notebook: Hulls reaches 1,000 point plateau

It seemed only fitting that Jordan Hulls would achieve a scoring milestone by knocking down a 3-pointer. It’s Hulls’ signature shot, after all, and a shot he’s been able to focus on even more this season with the addition of Yogi Ferrell.

In Thursday night’s 99-45 win against Sam Houston State, Hulls knocked down an open 3 from the top of the key to record his 1,000th-point, becoming the 44th player in Indiana history to accomplish the feat. After Hulls made the shot, Indiana coach Tom Crean called a timeout, walked out onto the court, and held Hulls’ hand in the air as the Bloomington native received a standing ovation.

Hulls was confused.

“I had no idea why I was getting my hand raised because I had just shot a terrible shot,” Hulls said of a deep 3 he missed earlier. “I’m not really into my personal accolades as long as the team wins, but it’s a pretty cool club to be a part of.”

Even Crean wasn’t entirely aware that Hulls only needed three more points to reach 1,000.

“I knew he was close, and I just completely lost track of where he was at,” Crean said. “He thought I was taking him out because he took a long 3. I love when he takes those 3’s. We need him to do that. I’m really, really incredibly proud that he got that. It’s an honor to coach him. He has grown so much as a player. He just keeps getting better and better.”

Hulls finished with 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Hulls also had five rebounds, five assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes. He becomes the second player on the current Indiana roster to hit the 1,000-point mark, joining senior forward Christian Watford.

“That kid epitomizes what we’re doing,” Crean said. “He epitomizes Indiana basketball in so many ways. I think people from the past can identify with him and the Hulls family, people in the future can look at Jordan Hulls and see what can happen when you play in this program, but most importantly, he impacts our present.”

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