He experienced the most successful seasons the Hoosiers have had in the last two decades.
Cody Zeller is now long removed from wearing the IU colors, but his time playing in Bloomington took the Hoosiers to heights they hadn’t reached in decades — namely being the #1-ranked team in the country.
Following three rebuilding years under former coach Tom Crean, Zeller became the first big recruiting win for the program in several years, being ranked no. 10 in the country in the 2011 247 Sports recruiting rankings.
Zeller lived up to the hype with his contributions, being the team’s leading scorer both seasons he was there. His time as a Hoosier saw IU go 56-16 and win a Big Ten Title. Indiana also reached two of the three Sweet 16s the program has competed in over the last 18 years.
Zeller, despite all the success, credits his teammates and says his time in Bloomington gave him lifelong relationships.
“My favorite memories are the guys I played with,” Zeller said. “Obviously, Vic, Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Derek Elston, and those guys are still some of my closest friends now. I had a great two years there and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
Zeller should have had a chance to reunite and play against Oladipo in his February 25th match-up against the Pacers. However, a bad back kept Oladipo sidelined for the game. Zeller said he is happy to see Oladipo back from his more serious ailment as he tries to lead his team to the postseason.
“I am just glad to see him back on the court,” he said. “Not tonight, but back from his knee injury, and I think he’s gearing up for the playoffs more than anything. I am glad he is doing well.”
Oladipo and Zeller’s friendship extends beyond the court, as their names will be felt for many generations with the Oladipo Zeller Legacy Lounge.
While Oladipo and Zeller have had NBA success, they are far from the only ones playing in the league, as no less than nine Hoosiers have seen action in games this season. Zeller currently sits third in scoring among current IU alums in the NBA at 11 points a game. He has also started nearly two-thirds of contests he has appeared in.
This is his seventh NBA season, all of which have been played with the Charlotte Hornets who drafted him fourth overall in the 2013 draft, two picks behind Oladipo.
Zeller said he is proud to be one of many playing at the next level.
“It’s kind of cool to look back and see how many have come through Bloomington or even been from Indiana,” he said. “I think it says a lot about the pride of basketball here in Indiana.”
Despite being a proud Hoosier and native of the state, he says he has not had a chance to follow the current Hoosier team much due to his busy playing career.
“Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see too many games just because of our own schedule,” he said. “I try to follow as much as I can, but it’s obviously tough with our schedule.”
Despite this, he is always happy to be home in Indiana where he grew up — in Washington, in the southern part of the state. This allows him to see his close relatives when he returns.
“It’s always fun to come back here,” he said. “To play in front of a lot of friends, family, last night was fun to catch up with my parents, brother, a couple family members.”