Cody Zeller: Hoosiers Big Man Needs More Seasoning Before Entering NBA Draft

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

Mar 28, 2013; Washington, D.C., USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller (40) walks off the court after losing to the Syracuse Orange 61-50 in the semifinals of the East regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Zeller would be making a colossal mistake entering the 2013 NBA draft.

The big man didn't have a disastrous showing during the Indiana Hoosiers' ill-fated tournament run, but Zeller didn't cover himself in glory, either.

He did well against James Madison in the round of 64, but that's to be expected against a thoroughly overmatched Dukes team. Then, in the Hoosiers next two games, Zeller only managed to go 7-of-20 from the field, bringing down 15 rebounds.

Indiana's 61-50 loss to the Syracuse Orange was likely Zeller's last game in college. He's the second-best big man on many teams' draft boards and will want to take advantage of a weak class overall.

Some might argue that his stock will never be higher, and he won't do himself any favors by staying at least another season in college.

Although it means passing up millions of dollars, leaving after his sophomore season is the wrong move for Zeller.

This isn't about having unfinished business in college. Few players are really motivated by avenging tournament losses. No one should really expect Zeller to actually want to atone for his poor tourney performances.

This is all about the player's future.

Zeller is far from the finished product right now. He might very well be the most skilled overall big man in college. Nerlens Noel is the better pro prospect, but his offense isn't as advanced as Zeller's at this stage of their respective careers.

Far too often, though, Zeller hasn't made the most of his size. While very tall, he's not very thick. Zeller's frame is pretty slight. When he hits the pros, he's going to be in for a rude awakening. It's not going to be any easier for Zeller in the NBA when he faces off against stronger, more talented opposition.

The back-to-the-basket post player isn't as prevalent in the NBA as it used to be. It's not as if Zeller will simply sit in the post or back down opponents the entire game. Zeller is at an advantage in terms of his shooting. He can hit mid-range jumpers when he actually takes them.

On the other hand, when Zeller does try to get inside against opposing big men, he's simply going to get overpowered.

Plain and simply, he needs to bulk up.

Zeller can hit the weights in the pros just as easily as he can in college. The biggest factor could be playing time. He would be much better off playing every minute in college rather than possibly riding the bench for much of his rookie season.

You could see the improvement Zeller made from his freshman season to his sophomore season. It's realistic to expect that he'll continue to get better with more time under Tom Crean.

It would be wrong to begrudge Zeller from cashing in now. If he wants to put his career first, however, spending one more year in college would pay huge dividends.