Cody Zeller is adding strength and 12 credit hours at Indiana this summer.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – On the day the finest college basketball players in the nation traveled to metropolitan New York City for the 2012 NBA Draft, Cody Zeller traveled across the Indiana University campus for more than 4 ½ hours of class work.
Zeller could have been in New York City with his brother, Tyler, a former star at North Carolina, and the 13 other players the league invited to the draft Thursday night.
Instead, the day opened with Zeller parked on the bench press in the Cook Hall weight room. He pushed 185 pounds 20 times, a personal record and eight more reps than Zeller could handle when he arrived at IU from Washington (Ind.) High School a year ago.
"Might have to text Tyler about that," Zeller said, with a wink. "I think he only got 16 in Chicago (at the NBA Draft combine)."
There was no time to text his brother. Zeller walked the half-mile from the IU practice facility to the Kelley School of Business for a pair of classes that began at 10:20 a.m. and ended at 2:50 p.m. After completing six hours during the first summer session, Zeller is enrolled in six more hours this session – three in accounting, three in African-American studies.
By August, Zeller will be more than halfway toward his degree from the Kelley School, a top 20-business program. With a 3.6 grade point average.
"Cody is unique," IU coach Tom Crean said. "He doesn't get too far ahead of himself, but he knows that I will. He knows that my job as a coach is to keep him in the day to day, but also have a long-term vision."
That's a vision that includes moving to the NBA on Zeller's terms, not on the schedule the basketball culture expects. Zeller's mother and father (Lorri and Steve) will attend the draft with Tyler, an academic all-American who earned his degree at UNC.
Cody will remain in Bloomington – in class. He'll watch the draft on television with his teammates. He expects Tyler to be taken as early as the sixth pick and no later than 12th.
Will Zeller second-guess the top selections?
"I'm sure I will," he said.
There is one selection that Zeller has never second-guessed – his decision to return to IU for his sophomore season. The Hoosiers will open 2012-2013 ranked in the top five in most polls, and Zeller, a 6-foot-11, 235-pound center, will be on the short list of national player of the year candidates.
He'll also add to his resume as the team prankster. Zeller surrenders no secrets. He once hid five cell phones with the alarms timed to sound in three-minute intervals in his parent's bedroom in the middle of the night. Under the bed. Hidden in drawers and closets.
"They figured out it was me after the second alarm and came upstairs and woke me up," he said.
There was also the day he switched the driver's license and insurance card in the wallet of his oldest brother, Luke. That was the morning after Luke's wedding. The groom lacked the IDs to claim his car from valet parking, resulting in the bride and groom arriving an hour late for their post-wedding brunch.
"Luke showed up and said he couldn't find his ID," Cody said. "I asked him to give me his wallet. I pulled out his driver's license and said, ‘It's right here.' "
Zeller's Twitter account -- @CZeller40 – generates as many laughs. He asked his nearly 30,000 followers not to tell Crean that he was working on a 25-foot roof cleaning gutters. When the official Twitter account of the Arizona Diamondbacks started following him, Zeller offered to send the MLB team game film from his days as an eighth-grade catcher.
On Father's Day, he said that he stopped at a yard sale to buy something for his Dad but wrote, "everything was out of my price range."
"I write my own (Tweets)," he said, with another laugh.
Zeller is also writing his own college basketball narrative, an old-school story about a guy more in love with the college experience, hanging out with his teammates such as Remy Abell and Jordan Hulls and meeting new people than rushing away to make his millions.
"My final decision was that I wasn't ready to grow up yet," Zeller said. "Everyone tells me that college will be the best years of my life.
"I'm not ready to pay bills, buy a house, start paying rent and everything else. There was no reason for me to leave. We're going to have high goals this year. We'll see what happens."
What has happened so far with Zeller during this off-season is that he has added considerable strength to his shoulders and legs. His 2012 stat line showed that Zeller averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. He shot 62.3 from the field and 75.5 from the foul line.
It also showed this: Zero three-point field goals attempted.
That will change. Ask Crean.
"He's handled the ball this spring and summer as much as (guards) Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo," Crean said. "We don't look at Cody as a big man. We look at him as a very tall basketball player.
"If anybody is preparing for us for next year, they have to start with Cody and how they're going to keep the ball out of his hands. Our job and his job is to make sure that no matter what answers they think they're coming up with, Cody's changing it and coming up with all kinds of new questions for the opponents.
"If he keeps doing this right and stays healthy, Cody is going to have a tremendous opportunity to be a perennial all-star at the next level for a long, long time – whenever that day comes."