Cody Zeller Player Spotlight

Story posted January 6, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Phil Constantino

Cody Zeller was voted college basketball’s national preseason player of the year by the Sporting News and CBSSports.com. So far in 2012-2013, he’s been as good as advertised.

Zeller, a seven foot sophomore forward from Washington, Ind. is averaging 16.6 points and just over eight rebounds per game while shooting higher than 60 percent from the field. He is the best player on the nation’s best team in the preseason, the Indiana Hoosiers. So far, Indiana is 13-1, 1-0 Big Ten, and the only loss they have suffered was an upset at the hands of the Butler Bulldogs which dropped them to No.5 in the rankings.

Last year, Zeller’s freshman season, he helped lead Indiana to a No.4 seed in the NCAA tournament and a spot in the sweet 16 before a loss to the eventual national champions the No.1-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. Zeller averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and was selected an AP Honorable Mention All-American, a Freshman All-American by Yahoo, the Sporting News and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA); earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and voted Big Ten co-freshman of the year.

Prior to Zeller’s arrival, the tradition-rich Indiana basketball program was not in its finest hour. Former Head Coach Kelvin Sampson was forced to resign near the end of the 2007-2008 season for alleged recruiting violations. This was followed by three straight losing seasons from 2008-2011, including a six win season in 2008-2009. The minute Zeller stepped foot on campus he was deemed the savior of Indiana basketball.

Coming out of high school Zeller was a highly touted recruit. The younger brother of North Carolina standout and current Cleveland Cavalier Tyler Zeller, and former Notre Dame Basketball player Luke Zeller, like his brothers Cody was a McDonald’s All-American. ESPN had Zeller rated as the 15th best overall prospect in the country, fourth at his position.

Zeller headlined a 2011 recruiting class for Indiana that was ranked 27th in college basketball by Rivals.com and given one mission; resurrect the once prominent Indiana basketball program. They’ve delivered. Indiana basketball is back, and the preseason odds on favorite to win the national championship.

Zeller, a sophomore, will have a decision to make about his future at the end of this season. He is projected as a top five pick in next June’s NBA draft by just about everyone. ESPN’s Chad Ford currently has Zeller ranked as the 5th best draft eligible prospect in this year’s class. Most experts think he’ll be a good NBA player.

“He can play center and power forward,” said an NBA scout to Inside the Hall’s Justin Albers. “He’s got it all. He can block shots, he runs the floor, he’s got pretty decent moves, he can shoot a little bit. I think he’s going to be a really, really good player immediately for an NBA team.”

On Monday night the Indiana Hoosiers travel to Happy Valley to take on Penn State (8-5, 0-1 Big Ten) at the Bryce Jordan Center at 7 p.m. Already not the same caliber of team as Indiana, the Nittany Lions are going to have a tall task trying to stop Cody Zeller, one of the best players in all of college basketball.

Phil Constantino is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail pvc5105@psu.edu.