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Tuesday, Dec. 5
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Former Indiana men’s basketball stars on the move in NBA free agency


The 2023 NBA free agency period opened June 30 and four former Indiana men’s basketball standouts have inked new deals since: Eric Gordon, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Thomas Bryant.

Among the group with arguably the most professional success is Gordon, who agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with the Phoenix Suns, according to The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania. The Suns mark the 34-year-old’s fourth organization in his 15-year career.

Gordon garnered Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2016-17, where he averaged 16.2 points on 40.6% shooting from the field with the Houston Rockets. The guard from Indianapolis was drafted No. 7 overall to the Clippers after his 2007-08 freshman campaign, a season that saw Gordon lead the Big Ten in scoring and pick up First Team All-Big Ten recognition, as well as First Team-All American by CBS Sports.

This past season, Gordon averaged 11 points with the Los Angeles Clippers, who acquired the guard midseason from the Rockets. In Phoenix, Gordon looks to bolster depth and add more 3-point shooting to a team that has its eyes set on title contention.

Oladipo was the only Hoosier of the four to be traded since the June 30 free agency period. The Miami Heat dealt the 6-foot-4-inch guard to the Oklahoma City Thunder for draft compensation and absorption of his $9.45 million contract, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Oladipo — who was sidelined for the bulk of Miami’s playoff run with a torn patellar tendon — is expected to miss at least a portion of next season while he continues rehabilitation. Since being drafted No. 2 overall by the Orlando Magic in 2013, Oladipo has made two All-Star appearances and played for five different teams.

Despite Indiana’s eventual Sweet Sixteen loss in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Oladipo was a key cog on perhaps the Hoosiers’ most successful regular season squad in recent memory. A First Team All-Big Ten, First Team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year selection, Oladipo helped guide Indiana to a No. 1 ranking in the country for 10 weeks as well as a Big Ten regular season title.

Oladipo’s teammate that season, the 6-foot-11-inch center Zeller, inked a one-year, $3.1 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, Wojnarowski reported Sunday afternoon. Most recently, Zeller averaged 6.5 points per game on this year’s runner-up champion Miami Heat.

Zeller was taken No. 4 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats, who later became the Hornets. Zeller, who is from Washington, Indiana, was a steady presence for the Hornets for eight seasons and figures to provide the Pelicans a depth piece at the center spot.

A former Indiana Mr. Basketball, Zeller broke out in his sophomore 2012-13 season. Zeller finished second in the Big Ten in rebounding with 8.1 boards per game and fourth in the conference in scoring at 16.5 points per game. Like Oladipo, Zeller was named a First Team-All Big Ten selection.

Bryant signed a two-year, $5.4 million deal with the Miami Heat, per Wojnarowski. Bryant was selected as the 42nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and most recently was a backup on the 2023 champion Denver Nuggets.

Bryant, who is from Rochester, New York, twice was named Third Team-All Big Ten in his two seasons in Bloomington and led the team in blocks during his 2016-17 sophomore campaign. In the NBA, Bryant has averaged double-digit points in three of his seven seasons and figures to slide behind All-Star center Bam Adebayo as the backup in Miami next season.

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