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Indiana’s Cody Zeller says he is returning to college

Apr 10, 2012, 10:42 AM EDT

Indiana University forward Zeller works for a shot against New Mexico State University forward Watson during their NCAA game in Portland Reuters

Indiana’s center Cody Zeller is considered a lock lottery pick — DraftExpress has him there — but he released a statement through the university Tuesday that he is staying for his sophomore year in college.

So, as of April 10 he is staying. However, he has until April 29 to change his mind and put his name in the NBA draft.

“I grew up hoping that one day I would get the opportunity to play in the NBA, but at this point, I’m not ready for my college experience to be over,” Zeller said in his released statement. “Coach Crean and my family were very supportive and helpful as I made my decision.”

I bet Crean was pretty pumped he was staying.

While the NCAA has made Tuesday the last day players can withdraw their name from the draft, they can put their name in until the NBA’s April 29 deadline. Meaning Zeller can still enter the draft, but if he does he cannot back out.

How you fall on Zeller’s decision pretty much says how you feel about players leaving college early in the first place. Indiana was expected to be one of the top teams in the nation next year with Zeller back, he gets more of an education, he gets time for his game to develop. There are certainly big draws.

But there are risks to his financial future. Right now he is a lock lottery pick. While he could go higher in a less-deep draft next year, he could also see himself slip down the board. What’s more, he puts off starting the clock on his rookie deal by a year, pushing back the very lucrative second contract for a season, reducing the years he can earn in the NBA. (That’s another reason the NBA owners want an older age limit — reduce the years guys are max earners in the NBA. Save some money.) Of course, there is also the injury concern, but I don’t really want to think about that.

Indiana’s other forward, Christian Watford, said he will be coming back for his senior season as well. Smart move. He would be late second round to undrafted, which means no guaranteed money. Stay in school, get your degree first in this case.

  1. gmsalpha - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Good for Cody. Seeing as how his big brother Tyler stayed at UNC all four years, I certainly felt like Cody would at the very least stay a second year.

    Indiana should be much improved next year as well, now that a great recruiting class is added to Zeller and Watford.

    Not many programs can reload the way UK can, and for players to stick around and build chemistry and develop their skills is the best and possibly only way to combat a juggernaut like Kentucky.

  2. adzs93 - Apr 10, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    As a Hornets fn this is dissappointing news, no more dreaming of a Davis/Zeller tandem 😦 However, as a fan of college ball this isn’t a suprise at all and im actually happy he chose to return because Indianas renewed ascencion is going to reach new levels next year with that recruiting class, and with Zeller@ the helm i’m thinking final four, even national champs…Good move also as next year i see him going top 5 for sure…

  3. charliegirl1 - Apr 11, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Have to agree with the previous post. As an IU fan, they now seem to be a good bet to make the Final Four, at the very least. Also should help him to have another year to develop his game and fill out physically. Just hope he doesn’t get hurt. Hate to see a player get punished for trying to do things the right way.

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