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.
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.
When Indiana lost in last Thursday’s Sweet Sixteen game against Syracuse, the naysayers came back out in full force. Many commenters and some national voices criticized the way IU’s season ended after the Hoosiers failed to advance farther than a season ago.
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass hears all that chatter. He spent a good portion of his interview with Inside the Hall on Thursday night talking about the things that have been said and defending Tom Crean, even when he wasn’t asked to do so.
“He won the Big Ten title by beating Michigan twice and Michigan State twice,” Glass said. “Tom Crean coached the heck out of that game at Michigan, including a great coaching job down the stretch. We exorcised a lot of demons for people who said we couldn’t win on the road, Cody [Zeller] wasn’t the go-to guy, this or that. And I thought we established Victor Oladipo as the Big Ten Player of the Year. Trey Burke’s a great player, but I thought Victor sealed being the Big Ten Player of the Year, and I sure as heck thought Tom Crean sealed being Big Ten Coach of the Year. Great respect for Bo Ryan, but I thought that win sealed Tom winning that. But you control what you can control.”
In some ways, the Hoosiers underperformed in the NCAA Tournament. They were a No. 1 seed, after all, making them the favorites to make this weekend’s Final Four in Atlanta. They missed open shots. They struggled to attack the zone. They couldn’t stop Michael Carter-Williams.
But in other ways, they ran into one of the nation’s hottest teams. Look at what Syracuse did to Marquette in the Elite Eight (and the Golden Eagles should be used to that zone).
Either way, there’s no denying the fact Indiana accomplished a great deal this season. The year may have ended early than expected, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good one.
Indiana junior Victor Oladipo was named a first team All-American by the Associated Press on Monday afternoon and his teammate, sophomore Cody Zeller, was named to the second team.
Oladipo becomes the first Hoosier to be named first team AP All-American since A.J. Guyton in 2000. He averaged 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game and shot 59.9 percent.
He was previously named first team All-Big Ten, the Big Ten defensive player of the year and the national player of the year by The Sporting News.
“I’m kind of speechless to be with the great names in college basketball, the NBA, in basketball history,” Oladipo told the Associated Press. “To be put in a sentence with them only makes me want to work harder.”
Other first team AP All-Americans to play at Indiana include Guyton (2000), Calbert Cheaney (1993), Steve Alford (1986, 1987), Isiah Thomas (1981), Kent Benson (1976, 1977), Scott May (1975, 1976) and Don Schlundt (1954).
Zeller, who was on the AP’s preseason All-American team, averaged 16.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks and shot 56.2 percent from the field.
He was also named first team All-Big Ten last month and a third team All-American by The Sporting News.
With the 2012-2013 season complete, Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo have decisions to make in the near future concerning the 2013 NBA Draft with both players projected as lottery picks in most projections.
Here’s our latest edition of Draft watch, with a focus on the decision making process for each player, as well as a look at the stock of Christian Watford:
· Analysis: Zeller’s final game of the season, and perhaps his Indiana career, was fuel for those who believe he’s not ready to jump to the NBA. He struggled to score against the length of Syracuse and had more of his shots blocked (5) than made field goals (3). But as alarming as that performance may have been in the eyes of some, the complete body of work for Zeller is still quite impressive. His scoring and rebounding numbers improved from a season ago, despite a dip in efficiency, and he was excellent in transition and at getting to the foul line. Whether he’s ready to be a regular rotation player in the NBA is up for debate, but his position as a lottery pick is not. That’s a proposition that’s hard to pass up for any player.
· Expert opinion: “Some scouts love him, many don’t. His stock is a bit more volatile [than Oladipo]. Not sure where he lands and whether he’d be better off returning for a year to add strength and a jump shot to his game.” – ESPN.com’s Chad Ford.
WASHINGTON — Jordan Hulls sat at his locker room in the Verizon Center, tears welling to his eyes when asked questions about the season and about his special senior class.
For four years, Hulls had dreamed of the opportunity he and his teammates had in front of them. They were a No. 1 seed, a favorite to reach the Final Four in Atlanta. All this after beginning from the very bottom with the NCAA Tournament a mere pipe dream.
This wasn’t supposed to end so soon. This was Indiana’s Dream Team, one constructed with so much talent and chemistry, it may never be replicated by Tom Crean and his staff. You can recruit all the top 50 players you want, but you can’t make them like each other and play together the way these guys did. There will never be an Indiana team quite like this again.
Crean and his staff know that, which is what made this one hurt more than most. The Indiana coaching staff remained in the Verizon Center locker room until after 2 a.m., and the team bus didn’t pull out of the arena until 2:21 a.m.
“There are no words to describe how I feel,” junior guard Victor Oladipo said after Indiana’s 61-50 loss to Syracuse in the Sweet 16. “I love playing with these guys. I’ll never forget this team for as long as I live.”
He should remember the good moments from this season. This team has earned that. Wins at Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. A Big Ten outright championship. Two All-Americans. A No. 1 seed. A second straight trip to the Sweet 16.
But, fair or not, the loss to Syracuse will probably always stick to the memories of the Indiana players the most. It was an opportunity missed, it turned an otherwise terrific season into a giant disappointment. The Hoosiers went to the Sweet 16 last year. This year, they needed to go further. They should have gone further.
“It’s over,” Hulls said, his voice cracking. “It’s just tough. We prepared so hard, we just didn’t go out there and execute like we needed to. It’s a terrible way to go out.”
All week long, we talked and heard about the challenge of the Syracuse 2-3 zone. The Hoosiers seemed confident on Wednesday, acting like they were prepared for the unique defense they would see.
But they were not. Twelve turnovers in the first half told you that. As hard as they may have prepared for Jim Boeheim’s team, they didn’t know and never did figure out how to attack and score against the zone.
“They’re length is not really something you can practice against,” Hulls said. “We turned the ball over, didn’t hit shots. We were overthinking, didn’t quite know what we wanted to do at certain times.”
The Hoosiers made a run in the second half — they got it to within six points at one point — but they couldn’t sustain it for a fairly simple reason: They didn’t make shots. To beat the Syracuse zone, you have to make some perimeter shots to loosen it up. Indiana was 3-of-15 from beyond the arc.
WASHINGTON — Tom Crean, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo met with the media following Indiana’s 61-50 loss to Syracuse in the East regional semifinal. Read comments from their postgame reaction below.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Indiana, student athletes Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller and Coach Tom Crean. We will start with an opening statement from Coach Tom Crean.
COACH CREAN: Well, we have had a heck of a ride with this group, and it doesn’t feel like that tonight, won’t feel like that for a couple of days, maybe longer.
But the bottom line is that this program has come from so far and I hope at some point in time, the seniors, the guys on this team will remember that they did things that hadn’t been done first off in 20 years at Indiana but more importantly there are not any programs, whether this be Syracuse, Kentucky, Carolina, Duke, you name it that are the blue blood programs of the country that have had to endure what these guys have had to endure. They have done it with perseverance, toughness, and improvement and they have done it with great class and they will all be better for it.
That’s how I view it. Our minds are around closure right now, they’re not. So we have to look at it that way. The story of the game for us is we didn’t take care of the ball enough. We gave them too many opportunities. We did not do a good enough job on a couple of their guys, especially Michael Carter-Williams and we couldn’t get over the hump. We couldn’t get that gap, that margin where we needed it to be. They played well and they deserve it, we didn’t play as well, we played extremely hard. They move on and we call it a great year.
Q. Christan, it must be hard to do right now but is there any way you can put into perspective your career at Indiana right now?
CHRISTIAN WATFORD: As you know, it’s been full of up’s and down’s but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love my teammates and I’m happy to be an Indiana Hoosier at the end of the day.
Q. Victor, what made their two-three zone so difficult? What kind of challenges did they present in their zone?
VICTOR OLADIPO: They were just long and active. We just didn’t take care of the ball like we should have. In the first half we got a little too anxious, catching the ball, moving out the ball, not having the ball secure in our hands, and our shots weren’t falling at the same time.
WASHINGTON — An earlier than expected exit from the 2013 NCAA Tournament quickly brought questions about the futures of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, both of whom are projected as lottery picks in this June’s NBA Draft.
But in the immediate aftermath of IU’s disappointing 61-50 loss to Syracuse, neither player was prepared to talk about what will come next.
“I have no clue. I don’t know how it goes, I don’t know what happens from here,” Zeller told reporters. “I was putting everything into this team, this tournament. I haven’t thought about it at all.”
“I haven’t even been thinking about that,” Oladipo said of his future. “I’m just really disappointed about the loss because we wanted to go all the way. I haven’t really been thinking about my future at all, just been in the present.”
Both players will have roughly a month to decide whether they’ll return to school as the NBA’s early entry deadline for the draft is Apr. 28.
Indiana coach Tom Crean was asked about the role he’ll play in assisting both Oladipo and Zeller with their respective decisions in his postgame press conference.
“I’m sure I will do what I would always do, try to be a voice of reson, do the right research, try to give them as honest of an assessment as I possibly can,” Crean said. “It won’t come from dotcoms and scouts, it will come from general managers, scouting directors, people like that that really have an investment in what those picks mean and where they would potentially go.
Tom Crean, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls addressed the media Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center before Thursday night’s Sweet Sixteen matchup with the Syracuse Orange.