That’s A Wrap: Cody Zeller

  • 04/08/2013 9:01 am in


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.

Those performances and his season as a whole should define Zeller’s campaign more than the NCAA Tournament loss to Syracuse, where he finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but struggled with the length of Syracuse and had five of his shots blocked. That game, viewed under a microscope on the March Madness stage, opened the door for criticism of Zeller’s ability to finish against athleticism and questions about his future at the next level.

Bottom line: Ultimately, it’s hard to overstate the impact Zeller has had on the Indiana program. His recruitment was a major turning point and his play backed up much of the hype that built him up as a savior for IU basketball. Projected as a lottery pick for the second straight year, that opportunity to further his career at the NBA level might be too much to pass up. Regardless of what he decides, Indiana basketball owes much of its rebirth over the past two seasons to Zeller.

PreviouslyHanner Mosquera-PereaPeter Jurkin, Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell

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  • nate91

    I just feel like there is unfinished business for Cody and Vic. They have a bad taste in their mouth from the way this year ended, they want a banner. Might be enough to bring them back.

  • zf

    We will definitely miss him once he is gone. Good luck, Cody! We all know you are the turning point of this program.

  • Mooks

    I heard a rumor that he promised Yogi just one more year. I hope this is true. Cody is the main reason why Yogi committed in the first place. I could be wrong though.

  • slojoe

    Many people forget that Zeller came right out of the box playing as a top flight player. Very few especially big men don’t start that way. That built up some expectations that may have been unrealistic.

  • MillaRed

    We all know what Cody means to the Hoosiers and having him back would be incredible. But I will go out on a limb and say I thought he would be better than he was in some aspects of his game. I guess the media would agree since he was tagged as the pre-season player of the year and finished as 2nd team AA. And it looks like he was choice 9 or 10 in terms of the top 10 AA’s.

    Not exactly a huge drop off going from 1 to 9 but I think there was more to it than that. I thought Cody would be a more dominant rebounder, and he was not much of a shot blocker either. As many pointed out, he played smaller in the post and never unveiled the jump shot we all know is in his repertoire. And a jump hook sure would be nice to see in the future.

    Fact is, he is only a SO and it boils down to the simple fact of whether or not he sticks around to unleash these skills on opponents in 2014. He has all of the ability in the world and could only get better. As a SO, his brother Tyler finished at 9.3 and 4.6. Think about that for a minute. As a senior Tyler went for 16.3 and 9.6. Very comparable to Cody’s SO stats.

    Simply put, the expectations for Cody will always be through the roof. It is clear to me he is better than his brother Tyler, a 1st Team AA as a senior. And Cody could pull that off next year, if not National POY.

    One thing I thought of immediately when Michigan was playing Syracuse, was Mitch McGary consistently knocking down that FT line jumper against that zone, I wish Cody would have done the same. Whether he was hitting them or not, we could have lived or died by that jumper instead of doing so by getting swatted in traffic over and over again.

  • J Smith

    Re: McGary: Thought the exact same thing. Zeller did it one time and that was it. Michigan made passing into the soft part of the zone look so easy. They also set picks and shot it from deep with success. Beilien’s approach just appeared much more robust than Crean’s at least to me.

  • MillaRed

    People either do not know or forget, immediately after Yogi committed he was asked, “Why IU?” His answer was, “To play with Cody AND Hanner.”

    We should not give up on Hanner. There is a lot there to work with.

  • nate91

    I think Hanner is going to make a huge jump next year. A full non conference slate plus a whole summer of work will do wonders for him

  • After CTC, Cody was the most important factor in the rebirth of Indiana basketball. He will be missed when he leaves.

  • Oldguyy

    Everyone played hack-a-Shaq on him defensively from the Minnesota game on, and he got very few whistles, resulting in his turnover percentage increasing markedly. I must say that I was disappointed that he didn`t switch to taking the short jumper shortly into each game after he saw that the officials were not going to call the fouls.

  • PDXHoosier

    I’m not sure if CTC wanted him driving to the basket instead of taking the 15 footer? I was baffled as to why he didn’t shoot the ball more. like you said, he did it once and got an easy bucket. Once you do that a few times, the zone really starts to open up with a simple shot fake.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i can’t help but think it’s 60-40 in favor of him going. maybe another factor, aside from the money and his love for the college lifestyle, is the fact that another season might feel a bit anticlimactic. think about it, preseason #1, preseason POY, outright B1G champs. yes they failed to achieve their main goal, but the odds are against iu next year, whether he returns or not. i hate to make this comparison because i can’t stand the guy, but think back to favre’s final season. he’d have been much better off if he’d called it quits after the near miss in the nfc championship the year before.

  • MillaRed

    People don’t like talking about officiating, but Cody got hammered. There is no doubt about. 3 of the 6 so called “blocks” in the Syracuse game should have resulted in 6 free throws. Remember when 3 Cuse players fouled him at once? His arms looked like a flippin pretzel!

    I thought the officiating in both Final Four games was terrible. And as much as I despise him, Doug Gottlieb agreed. Only he and Barley have the nads to call out officials.

  • MillaRed

    I think this “Movement” thing put way too much pressure on these FR. Let’s move forward without naming incoming classes please.

  • MillaRed

    I’m not putting this on Crean. Yogi was downright terrible and we cannot possibly compare Jordy to Hardaway’s size and athleticism. Plus Michigan’s bench won the game. And UM in general hit very deep three’s.

    If there is one game Will should have started it was that one. We did better with the taller lineup. And if there was better way to utilize CWat, I would have liked to see it.

  • Daren Collentine

    Don’t be Jared Jeffries, who has had a solid NBA career but couldve have had a NCAA championship along with it.

  • CreanFaithful

    Reverts to the team we had three years ago? Questionable conclusion. I would agree that we would be a contender if Zeller comes back though. Just very unlikely IMO.

  • Daren Collentine

    I think less expectations would do wonders for these guys. But having Cody at the 5 and Noah at the four would be amazing. They would easily be the best 4-5 running combination in the country.

  • Daren Collentine

    Look at Georgi Dieng. He was as raw as they come and now hes a huge piece of a team playing in the championship tonight.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    I got so angry during the Michigan/Syracuse game when Syracuse would block a shot but get called for the foul — we were NOT getting those same calls!

  • WhatsUpKnight

    would love to see that, no doubt. and i agree 100% regarding the expectations. all the preseason hoopla did them no favors whatsoever.

  • LiveIUBBall

    I don’t want to be overly optimistic about Cody coming back, but I really feel like there is a great shot. I feel like with him it comes down to a lot of intangibles off the court. I doubt with a millionaire brother, seemingly solid parental background, and love for IU/college life he is itching to get into the NBA quite as much as some. IU for me was like a candy land. I can’t imagine willingly leaving early, but hey millions of dollars speak pretty loudly. He also could have gone pro last year. I think adding to this the fact that some scouts are almost recommending he come back citing performances like the Syracuse game, and the comments made by Noah Vonleh to this cites personnel about how his mind wasn’t really made up (unlike Victors) also give reasoning to believe there is at least a real chance. Wishful thinking no doubt, but why not. One more year! *Chants*

  • calbert40

    While I don’t disagree with any of the statements suggesting Cody could get even better, I think as we get further removed from the season, we will all see that he is a Top 5 big man to ever play for IU. His impact on this program has been nothing short of amazing, and I wish him nothing but luck in the future…whether it be on an NBA roster or wearing candy stripes for another season!

  • MillaRed

    Agreed. And call Victor 1B. Taking a 3-star recruit to 1st Team All-American status is just as significant IMO. Man I am going to miss those dunks.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    I’d think he drove like that because Crean gave him the green light. Given all the early attempts to go inside, my guess is that the coaching staff game planned to get Syracuse in foul trouble and it backfired. That’s indirectly and weakly supported by the writings of some Syracuse fans I read, all of whom stated that they were worried about IU getting them in foul trouble.

    Normally that’s a good gameplan. It just backfired, and the Hoosiers were unable to adjust by making the outside shot. Add to that their inability to take care of the ball, and we got the game that resulted instead of the game we wanted. Such things happen. It sucked that it happened at that time, but it’s the way it worked out.

    Looking back, I myself do with that Cody would’ve taken the jumper more. But I’m the first to admit that that’s hindsight. Before the game, I would’ve been all over the notion of driving and collecting fouls. Turns out that against Syracuse that night, one wasn’t going to end up resulting in the other. 🙁

  • calbert40

    Hello, Hyperbole! Zeller’s impact on this program is immense, but his absence from it doesn’t mean we crash to the level of NW and PSU in the B1G again. I’d suggest that even without Zeller and Oladipo, IU’s roster next season is still one of the most talented in the conference. A young roster, but as many have suggested in the past, if I could only choose to have one or the other, I’d pick talent over experience. Talent gains experience every game out. Experience doesn’t necessarily gain talent.

  • calbert40

    A poor freshman year does not mean a lost career. Look no further than Tom Coverdale, who played about 40 minutes total as a freshman before leading a team to a B1G title and NCAA championship game as a senior. I’m not giving up on anyone on this roster.

  • calbert40

    Yup. That “lousy” class that only had two unheralded and mostly unrecruited 3-star recruits has been a little better than we all anticipated, hasn’t it?! I’ll admit, I was wrong about that one!

  • MillaRed

    “We” as in “everyone in the IU Nation” were wrong Calbert. How could we know?

  • shknqk

    If Cody comes back, I hope he comes back with an eye on legacy, not just getting better or the championship. I think his mark is significant but incomplete. He has the potential to do something more intangible with his return related to leadership and commitment and a sort of redemption. Maybe that’s too Hollywood or smarmy, maybe I am shaped by the purpose driven life on the news.

    But if I was valuing business decisions. I would do an npv on the diff between 1 and 10 draft position and the likelihood of a career ending injury in another year of college and unless the value difference was compelling I would return.

  • calbert40

    Good point. I guess the lesson is that the number of stars following a recruit’s name aren’t as important as the amount of dedication, desire and effort the same recruit possesses. Vic and Will have those things in great supply.

  • PDXHoosier

    I know it’s not the way to typically beat a zone D, but I kind of wish we had jacked up some long 3s. UM made some deep 3s that are basically impossible to guard. If Jordy and CWat hit a few from deep, it could have changed things. oh well Im done thinking about that game.

  • HoosierD

    I think it was the MSU game at the Breslin Center where Cody showed that outside jumper maybe 2 or 3 times. Hit a few turn around jumpers from the free throw line and beyond which really opened MSU’s defense and allowed for the drive / fouls. He could definitely develop that more, we all know he’s got it, just a different game plan for the Cuse game and all others in the season… never saw that jumper again. Seems we fell in love with the drive to the basket and getting fouled. That strategy did win a bunch of games so I can’t really fault the game plan going in…

    Will definitely miss watching this team play. Fun and frustrating year; proving once again these kids and coaching staff brought IU back.

  • b_side

    Jumping on @MillaRed:disqus’s shoulders here. You can only execute what your players are capable of. We can compare all we want, but that matchup happened because Kansas flat out choked and Burke hit a 3 that would go in maybe 15/100 times.

  • MillaRed

    No worries. I just happened to tune in when Yogi made his announcement.

  • xCowHoosier

    Ahhh…the dunks…we were spoiled by a few flying two handed tomahawks weren’t we!

  • b_side

    Well for one, wouldn’t be surprised to see Michigan lose their entire starting lineup. Thomas is leaving OSU. Also wouldn’t be surprised if Payne/Harris test the waters (Nix is a senior to boot) for MSU.

  • iuoiu

    Cody may well have unleashed that FT line jumper vs Syracuse…..if Yogi didn’t throw so many passes off his foot. But yeah, would have LOVED to see him use that more.

  • For all the comments about Cody struggling with length and athleticism, I seem to remember him outplaying Anthony Davis twice last year. One bad game does not make a struggle.

  • IU80

    Cody Zeller – a great example of a true student athlete. He did well on the floor and academically, and he did both with zero ego. He will be sorely missed. I think if he stays, he has the chance to really develop his leadership skills, which will be difficult at the professional level.

    On a separate topic: Will Sheehey is going to be lights out next year. My bet is that he steps up his game and takes the full mantle of leadership. I expect great things from him. It is going to be fun to watch!

  • Daren Collentine

    I knew………….. Just kidding.

  • I’ll be rooting for Michigan tonight, but Kevin Ware and his teammates deserve it just as much. In the end I don’t care who wins, but if Louisville does it’s because of Kevin Ware. So I created this for the game tonight!

  • wow! where do you come up with this? if CZ leaves, more power to him. IU’s future is very bright with or without him. CTC has studs committed to the program that would’nt have even considered looking at the Hoosiers a few years ago. Good players like CZ come and go, it’s the nature of the game today. IU will be fine.

  • WALT

    Cody would need to learn a few things mentioned above by intelligent posters. A hook, a spin move, playing taller, he probably knows all of these, but would like to be able to see him play next year against McGary (if he returns). Sad part is we have already beaten Michigan twice this year. Hoosiers remember–Play angry.

  • WALT

    Cody will be missed and VO too. I think the biggest catalyst for IU for the last two years has been Jordy Hulls. imo

  • David Kahil

    You people are crazy this kid needs a sky hook and some moves other than those suited for a fullback or he is bound for Turkey. He needs to stay if he wants any chance in the NBA…he has to pick up some new moves, go old school, I think that was obvious to the entire nation.

  • Ole Man

    Carefull, Calbert–you’re about to get carried away yourself…..LOL!
    Seriously, young talent or no; we lose 4 starters, 2 All-Americans, 1 DPOY in both B1G and nationally; over 4/5 of our scoring. The list is long.
    Plus, being young, they won’t play the defense of this year’s team.

    Hope the young team develops. They could have a UNC kinda year (they lost 4 of 5 starters as well).
    Losses… Whisky, MSU, MI, Iowa, OSU and probably a NW or NEB or someone else thrown in. And hate to say it, but probably at Purdue. So, win the rest and we’re 11-7 in conference, let’s say.
    A good year and a learning year for the freshman.
    I’d be delirious with better than that; and making the Sweet Sixteen again.
    And then we have to worry all over again as to whether NV comes back.

    Love your confidence. But lots of talent other than ours in the conference next year.

  • Ole Man

    Think Harris is staying.
    MI loses Hardeway and Burke.

  • Ole Man

    Totally agree with this call!
    And to think there were some all season long bashing the young man.

  • Ole Man

    Honestly, my head says, “Go, Vic! And don’t look back.”
    He’ll never get another shot like this one in the draft.