Cody Zeller came to Indiana with impossible expectations.
And so maybe there’s some freedom and change on the horizon as he makes the leap to the next level.
He’s no longer the program savior taking the Hoosiers back to the promised land. Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine won’t be asking him to grace their covers this season. The golden boy glamour fades, and he simply becomes another young kid trying to establish himself during the grueling slog of an 82-game NBA season — arriving in cities he’s never visited in the middle of cold winter nights.
His relative anonymity may also lead to a basketball re-invention.
Tom Crean asked Zeller to do what was best for the team in the halfcourt — use his height and athleticism to either score or draw fouls and go to the line. It was a role, for the most part, he excelled at. The 2012-13 Hoosiers had plenty of perimeter shooters in an offense that led the nation in efficiency for most of the season; Zeller’s offense outside of the post simply wasn’t needed. But the Washington native’s back-to-the-basket game wasn’t always smooth. It’s unlikely his best path to offensive success in the league, especially against bigger and better talent. (Though that’s not to say he can’t get buckets at the rim. He’ll just need to pick his spots.)
So Zeller may have to look elsewhere to bring offensive value in the NBA. He can use his quickness in a face-up game when the matchup calls for it. (If he lands at No. 10 to Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge would be a great mentor to show him the ropes here.) But it’s perhaps more likely that his jumper that never really saw the light of day in Bloomington will be most essential for Zeller if he wants to become a consistent starter or rotation player.
Former Indiana All-American Cody Zeller did a radio tour on Monday afternoon in advance of Thursday’s NBA Draft, making stops on several national shows, including “The Hayes Advantage” on Bloomberg Radio.
With host Kathleen Hayes, Zeller discussed his viewpoint on compensation for college athletes, his decision to enter the draft, the style of play he’d best fit with in the NBA and much more.
Here’s a transcript of the interview, in Q & A format, via Bloomberg Radio.
On whether he is pleased he stayed in school an extra year over entering last year’s NBA draft:
“Yes. I was definitely excited to stay two years at Indiana. I could have left after my freshman year, but a big part of it had to do with not being as close to graduating as I am now. Right now I’m 35 credits from graduating from the Kelley School of Business after two years, so that’s definitely within reach now.”
On how tough the decision was to enter draft this year coming from a family that values education:
“It was tough for me, but like I said I’m within reach on it to go back for two summers to finish up, but education is important to our whole family just because you’ve got to have something to do after your basketball career ends. So it is very important to me.”
On the biggest challenge he faces moving to the NBA:
“I think it will be an adjustment just moving to a new city where I won’t know anyone, being 20 years old and on my own. And I think after I get settled in and meet new people that I don’t think it will be a huge adjustment for me, but I’m definitely excited to figure out where I’m going so I can find a place to live and start getting going with all this.”
On critics who feel he should have entered the draft last year:
“No. I don’t worry about that at all. Like I said, an education is a big part of me, so I’m closer to graduating. And we had a great year this year and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
On whether he is surprised more players do not think about education:
“Yes. Somewhat. I think college basketball, playing here in the U.S. in college basketball is unlike anything else, playing in March Madness, playing against the best competition, for me personally I wouldn’t trade that for anything if I had the opportunity.”
On whether NCAA players should be compensated:
Just one week remains until the 2013 NBA Draft and with several mock drafts updated this week, it’s time for another look at where Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo are currently projected to be selected as well as some recent buzz on Christian Watford.
ESPN: (2 to Orlando) Draft Express: (5 to Phoenix) NBADraft.net: (7 to Sacramento) SheridanHoops.com: (2 to Orlando)
· Analysis: Oladipo worked out Wednesday in Cleveland along with Ben McLemore, Otto Porter and Jamaal Franklin. He’s also worked out for Phoenix and Orlando, the two teams most frequently mentioned as potential landing spots, and declined a workout for the Washington Wizards, according to The Washington Post. ESPN.com’s Chad Ford said Tuesday on Sportscenter that the Cavaliers haven’t decided which direction they’ll go with the No. 1 pick and the fact that Oladipo, McLemore and Porter were all brought in this week seems to indicate the franchise is doing its due diligence. That said, Ford is still projecting Nerlens Noel at No. 1 while adding that Oladipo has the upper hand over McLemore at No. 2 to Orlando.
· Expert Opinion: “With a potential hole at shooting guard to fill, the Magic have their choice of Ben McLemore and Oladipo. Both guards represent better value and have higher ceilings than Trey Burke. The current preference is Oladipo, who projects as a better defender and is a better athlete than McLemore. Although McLemore has been as high as No. 1 in our mocks, Oladipo looks to be making a push. Considering Orlando GM Rob Hennigan came from Oklahoma City, going with a player that has a high upside, high character and is very long and athletic makes the most sense. While Oladipo has continually risen up NBA draft boards, McLemore has started to slip a bit, and that could see him fall more than initially anticipated.” – SheridanHoops.com.
With individual and group workouts well underway and just over three weeks until the 2013 NBA Draft, it’s time for an updated look at where Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo are currently projected to be selected later this month.
In our latest update, we’ll look at updated projections for both players and also share some updated expert analysis:
ESPN: (2 to Orlando) Draft Express: (5 to Phoenix) NBADraft.net: (5 to Phoenix) SheridanHoops.com: (4 to Charlotte)
· Analysis: Oladipo was one of the stories of the combine as he confirmed what those of us who have watched him for the last three years know: He’s a freak athlete. Combine that with his rapid improvement and enormous upside and it’s not surprising that Oladipo, who worked out for the Magic last week, appears to be in the mix at No. 2 overall. Phoenix is also mentioned often for Oladipo and he’ll work out for the Suns today. According to Tom Crean, the former IU guard will also work out for Cleveland and Charlotte. At this point, Oladipo seems like a lock to be picked in the top five, which is quite the meteoric rise for a guy who wasn’t ranked in the top 100 coming out of high school.
· Expert opinion: “If you’re talking about the guy who is going to come in and be the most effective player from day one, it’s Oladipo. He’s got that ‘It’ Factor,” that it takes to be successful in the league. A lot of guys in this draft don’t have that. There’s no doubt he plays with an edge. Watching him play defense this season, I wouldn’t have any hesitation putting him into an NBA game and letting him guard Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade or Kobe Bryant from day one. I think he’s that good defensively.” - Will Perdue, former Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers center and ESPN radio analyst.