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Tuesday, Feb. 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Zeller, Watford to return for 2012 season

IU Kentucky

The IU basketball season ended two and a half weeks ago but the good news continues to roll into the program.

Forwards Christian Watford and Cody Zeller announced on Tuesday that they will return for another season in Bloomington.

Watford drew the most questions of the two players on whether or not he would forgo his final season to enter the NBA Draft.

He ended his junior season with a 27-point effort against Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen in route to making the NCAA South Regional All Tournament team.

Now, Watford will carry that momentum into the off-season, as he will head into his senior season as the leading returning scorer in the Big Ten with 1,287 career points.

“Christian really ended the season on a high note on the biggest stage and is building off that,” IU Coach Tom Crean said in a release from the athletic department. “He is going to have the opportunity to be a leader and have an even greater impact on the program and his game, but more importantly, he will earn his degree from IU.”

Over Watford’s last four games this season he averaged 18.5 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to complete my degree and to continue restoring the winning tradition at IU,” Watford said in the release. “I believe in Coach Crean and our staff and I am eager to lead my new teammates and build on what we started.”

Zeller’s decision didn’t seem to garner the same attention as Watford even though many NBA mock drafts had the freshman going in the top ten.

He returns to IU as the Hoosiers leading scorer (15.6) and rebounder (6.6) from last season and finished fourth in the nation shooting 62.3 percent from the floor.

“Cody is a player who, along with his unique skillset, makes everyone around him better,” Crean said in the release. “He is going to have great opportunities ahead of him, yet his demeanor, work ethic and his desire to be a great teammate never wavers. He will have the opportunity to be as good as any player in college basketball.”

Numerous media outlets have already placed IU as the No. 1 team heading into the 2012-2013 season and even Zeller has cracked the top of 2013 NBA mock drafts.

All that hype will undoubtedly carry through the off-season but Hoosier fans can let out a sigh of relief knowing their top two returning scorers will be back in the cream and crimson next fall.

"I grew up hoping that one day I would get the opportunity to play in the NBA, but at this point, I’m not ready for my college experience to be over,” Zeller said in the release.  “My college experience at IU this year has exceeded my expectations, on and off the court. I look forward to playing at Assembly Hall next year in front of the greatest fans in the country.”

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