Indianapolis – Cody Zeller wasn't around for the opening weekend of practice for the Indiana Elite One AAU squad, but the Washington (Ind.) H.S. sophomore forward had a good excuse.
Instead of joining his AAU teammates in Bloomington a week and a half ago, Cody got the okay to join his family on a trip to Detroit to watch older brother Tyler play in the Final Four. The trip might have set Cody back a little as far as getting comfortable with his AAU squad, but the opportunity to watch his older brother play on college basketball's biggest stage and win a national title was too much to pass up.
"It was so much fun," Cody said. "It was totally worth it because you don't get many opportunities to go to the Final Four, especially having a brother in it."
The Zeller arrived in Detroit on Thursday and departed on Tuesday, one day after North Carolina had won its fifth national title to tie Indiana for third on the all-time list. The experience left Cody thinking about his own college future and envisioning a day when he might get a chance to duplicate his brother's feat.
"Being there makes you want to do it as a player and not just as a fan," Cody said.
Time will tell if Cody is able to win his own national title, but it's clear that he'll have a chance to play college basketball at an elite program. After playing sparingly as a 6'5" high school freshman last year, Cody has grown to 6'9" and has emerged as the best player on Washington's roster. One season after watching Tyler lead Washington to the Class 3A state title, Cody led Washington to a 21-3 record and a No. 2 ranking by averaging 15.0 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Like Tyler, Cody is an inside-outside big man who runs the floor extremely well. While he has the moves that allow him to score around the basket, he can score in transition and also has an excellent mid-range jump shot that will allow him to lure opposing big men away from the basket.
IU's Tom Crean became the first coach to offer him a scholarship midway through the season, and plenty of others could be close to doing the same. Zeller said Purdue, Illinois and Ohio State have come to the high school to see him work out, and that both Butler and Iowa are expected at the high school sometime this week to do the same.
But Crean has already seen enough to be convinced that Zeller would be a good fit in Bloomington. The Hoosier coach watched Cody score 19 points and pull down 12 rebounds against eventual Class 3A champion Princeton H.S. back in February and offered him a scholarship soon afterwards. He's clearly made Zeller a top priority in a 2011 class that is full of intriguing options for the Hoosier program.
Zeller admits that IU has some things working in its favor.
"It's close to home, and not many colleges can say they're that close to home," said Zeller. "That's a plus for them. It's not a deciding factor for me, but it is a plus.
"He's also big on tradition, which is great there. He's planning on returning them to where they were."
If Indiana is going to get back to competing for Big Ten championships and Final Four berths it is going to need to add players of Zeller's caliber in its upcoming recruiting classes. While Crean would certainly love to see Zeller go the way of fellow Indiana Elite One player and 2011 standout Matt Carlino and commit early, that's not in Zeller's plans at this point.
"I don't know what they're planning on, but I wasn't planning on (committing early)," Zeller said. "I'll probably decide in a year or two. I'm not in a big rush."
Hoosiers Not Only Ones With An Eye on Zeller
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