Cody Zeller: Why Indiana's Center Has a Plummeting Draft Stock

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Cody Zeller: Why Indiana's Center Has a Plummeting Draft Stock
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Indiana as the preseason No. 1 overall? Check.

Cody Zeller, preseason Player of the Year favorite? Check.

Make it past the Sweet 16 in 2013? Fail.

Zeller and his Indiana Hoosiers' run of what was hoped to end in a National Championship was cut short by a much more physical Syracuse team Thursday night.

Zeller was 3-of-10 shooting, including six shot attempts that were blocked. He finished the game with 11 points, with five of them coming from the charity strike.

The Wooden Award hopeful was less than stellar throughout his three games in the tournament, averaging just 12.3 points per game and only 6.3 rebounds. 

What was most disappointing was Zeller's inability to finish at the rim. He was consistently overpowered and overmatched; it wasn't the type of performance professional scouts jump out of their seats for.

As of December 2012, CBSSports.com's college basketball inside Jeff Goodman projected Zeller to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. 

One day before the tournament started, Goodman had Zeller as his fifth-ranked player on the board.

After a mediocre tournament outing, Zeller's lack of strength inside may cause the seven-foot big man to hit the weight room in the offseason and spend another year under Tom Crean's wing.

He is simply too skinny and not strong enough to play against the likes of the big men in the NBA. He needs to put on an extra 20-25 pounds of pure muscle and develop his strength on the low post inside.

In a league with teams constantly looking to add inside presence, taking a risk on Zeller early in the draft doesn't have too much of a foreseeable reward at this point in time.

Zeller is really athletic and has a solid jump shot for a guy possessing his height, but to play in the NBA, you need to be physical. Zeller isn't quite there yet.

He would be smart to spend at least one more year at Indiana where he has a great coach in Crean.

In the classroom, Zeller boasts a 3.44 GPA at Indiana's prestigious Kelley School of Business. Maybe, just maybe, he will follow the likes of his brother, Tyler, who graduated from North Carolina with a 3.62 GPA and a degree in Business Administration, and get his degree from Indiana.

 

Scouting Report on Zeller

Positives

  • Quick for his size
  • Extremely high basketball IQ
  • Solid ball-handler
  • Can run the floor if he needs to
  • Good mid-range jump shot
  • Exceptional passer
  • Tall (7'0")
  • Mobile
  • Active on defense

 

Negatives

  • Lacks strength
  • Not physical inside the paint
  • Pushed out of the paint way too easily
  • Not a go-to scoring threat at the professional level
  • Gets bullied by big men on defense

 

Summary

It is rare that you find a seven-footer who possesses the athleticism that Zeller has. I cannot put him on my list as an elite prospect until I see him develop to be a more physical presence inside. If he works on his strength and physical abilities, Zeller has the other pieces to make him a force to be reckoned with in the NBA some day.

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