Zeller announces he’ll leave IU, pursue NBA career

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BLOOMINGTON – Indiana Hoosiers fans learned Wednesday afternoon that Cody Zeller will enter the NBA Draft.

Fox 59’s Chris Hagan had previously confirmed the news.

Zeller made the announcement with IU coach Tom Crean at his side. Crean talked about how much Zeller meant to the program and the bright future ahead of him.

Zeller said playing at IU was the experience of a lifetime, adding that his two years at IU were packed with great experiences both on and off the court.

Many scouts pegged Zeller as a surefire first-round pick after his freshman season, but Zeller decided to return to IU for a shot at a national championship. As a sophomore, he averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

While his stock dipped after a disappointing performance in the NCAA tournament, many scouts say he’s still a top 15 pick in the draft.

After Zeller announces his intention to leave, the Indiana Hoosiers will have lost four out of their five starters from a team that began the season ranked no. 1 in college basketball. Guard Jordan Hulls and forward Christian Watford graduated while Victor Oladipo has already decided to go to the NBA.

Zeller acknowledged that the fact many of his teammates were already leaving factored into his decision to enter the draft.

In a statement posted on the website for the Zeller family’s charitable work, Zeller called it the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

His statement in its entirety from DistinXion:

“Two years ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life to attend and play basketball at Indiana University. My experience here at IU has been unforgettable and has surpassed my expectations, making me even more confident that I made the best college decision.  Attending and playing basketball for IU not only fulfilled my collegiate dreams, but it also has provided me with the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong goal of playing in the NBA. While I will continue to pursue my degree in the future, I believe it is in my best interest to pursue my professional basketball career in the NBA next season.

This decision was a difficult one, because I have met so many people in the last couple years that have made a positive impact on my life.  When I initially made my college decision, the players and coaches were the top factors in choosing IU. And now, looking back on my college experience, these are the same people that have made my experience enjoyable and successful. I am so grateful for the life-long friendships that I’ve found and I know they will continue to get stronger in the future.

Another big factor in choosing Indiana University was the first-class academics of the Kelley School of Business. After experiencing the professionalism and excellent teaching of the professors, I now understand why this program is so highly regarded around the world. While the classes are challenging, I’ve always considered academics to be a high priority and will continue to be held to a higher standard by completing my degree through the Kelly School of Business. Earning a college degree is not only important to me personally, but it is also one of my goals, professionally.

Along with my basketball and academic experiences at IU, I’m also thankful for the Hoosier fans and all of their support. Hoosier Nation has the absolute best, most loyal fans of any team across the country.  Some of my favorite college memories will always be playing at Assembly Hall in front of the country’s loudest student section. Thank you, Hoosier Fans, for all your unconditional love and support over the last two years!

While I’ve loved playing college basketball, NCAA regulations have restricted me from actively participating in and endorsing my family’s non-profit organization that uses elite basketball training to teach character values and to build family relationships.  My family founded DistinXion, a Zeller Family Program four years ago with the goal of making a positive impact on future athletes and their families.  My family and I have been given many opportunities and want to give back to our community through this program.  While I’ve only been able to volunteer at camps, I’m looking forward to being able to be more involved with this organization and would like to take this first opportunity to endorse DistinXion and recommend the camps and other programs to those interested.  DistinXion is a first-class company, founded on the same character and strong values that we teach through our programs and camps.

Over the past two years, Indiana University, my teammates and coaches, and the fans, have made my college experience better than I could have ever imagined.  I have truly loved wearing the candy stripped pants and I will forever be proud to call myself a Hoosier.”

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