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Tuesday, Nov. 28
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Zeller announces decision to enter NBA Draft

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In the same spot where, 24 hours earlier, Victor Oladipo ended his IU career with labored posture and heavy breathing, Cody Zeller painted a different picture Wednesday afternoon.

The sophomore forward laughed and joked as he sat at the makeshift press conference with IU Coach Tom Crean. Crean even joined in with some wisecracks, and Oladipo smiled off to the side as he sat next to a tweeting Assistant Coach Kenny Johnson.

The result was the same, though.

Zeller’s days in cream and crimson are finished, as he announced his plans to skip his final two seasons of eligibility and join his two older brothers, Luke and Tyler, in the NBA.

“The past two years have been probably the best two years of my life, made possible by these coaches, the guys in the locker room, the fans of Indiana, the students, the people of Bloomington,” Zeller said. “It’s been a great two years, but at this point in my life, I think it’s best for me to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA.”

While Oladipo said he did not know he was leaving until the recent season’s end, Zeller admitted he knew from the start that this year could be his swan song.

“After a while, you just kind of know,” Zeller said. “I kind of knew, barring injury or anything drastic, that this might be my last year, so I was enjoying every last minute of it. There was kind of a sense of closure with playing my game at Assembly Hall and playing my last tournament.

“I definitely left everything out there that I had, put everything into each practice and each game. I just kind of knew over time.”

While the weight of the decision had shown through in Oladipo the day before, Zeller seemed carefree, even cheerful, Wednesday, showing none of the exhaustion that Oladipo displayed. Pondering his legacy at IU, Zeller left it open-ended with a joke about the media.

“I guess that’s up to you guys.”

Zeller, whose speedy progression through the Kelley School of Business has been noted in the past, is 35 credits away from a degree. He will complete his degree during the course of two summers, first taking the 14-credit I-CORE, then 15 credits the following summer. He will take six credits online.

As Zeller began to discuss the importance of academics to him — both of his brothers spent four years in college and earned degrees — Crean jumped in.

He apologized, but with a smile, noted “I don’t get to interrupt him much more,” then complimented Zeller’s commitment to his studies.

Zeller averaged 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season. All led the team and were improvements from his freshman campaign.

Zeller said he came back this year largely to be part of the final ride with this year’s seniors, “the guys I’m closest to,” as he put it.

Zeller plans to work out with Oladipo as the pair prepares for the draft. Like his teammate, he has not yet hired an agent. As with Oladipo, Zeller has received feedback indicating he will be a lottery pick, Crean said.

Even with Oladipo and Zeller gone, IU remains oversigned by one, necessitating at least one player slated for next year’s squad to leave the team. A player could transfer, a recruit might not make it to campus or another player could choose to leave eligibility on the table for whatever reason.

Yet Crean is already looking ahead at the long-term picture, one in which he anticipates more players earning opportunities to leave early. As the press conference closed, he promised there would not be another sequel today.

“We will not be here tomorrow, ’cause I’m going recruiting.”

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