Dienhart: Cody Zeller makes 'wise' choice

Victor Oladipo turned pro on Tuesday. It was Cody Zeller’s turn Wednesday. And, like Oladipo, Zeller made a wise choice. Zeller has accomplished a lot in two scant years in Bloomington, helping revive the Indiana program by leading it to its first outright Big Ten title in 20 seasons.

The Hoosiers also earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney, which they exited prematurely. Still, he has helped make IU an elite program once again, priming the Hoosiers for a big future.

[ RELATED: Just how much has Indiana lost? Here’s a look ]

Zeller joins Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas and Oladipo as Big Ten players who have turned pro. Others may follow, including Michigan’s Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Michigan State’s Adreian Payne.

The NBA draft is June 27. Underclassmen have until April 16 to withdraw. April 28 is the deadline to declare for early entry.

[ RELATED: Who’s declared for the NBA draft? Keep track here ]

This is projected by most experts to be a weak draft, which makes Zeller’s decision even easier. The ESPN.com mock draft projects Zeller going 10th overall; CBSSports.com has Zeller going fifth. The only other center projected as a top-20 pick is Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, who could be the first selection.

Zeller is coming off a strong sophomore season that saw him average 16.5 points and 8.1 points. He earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades and some All-America mention.

[ FACEBOOK POLL: Who will Indiana miss more: Oladipo or Zeller? ]

Zeller flashed some nice low-post skills at Indiana. The 7-footer can run the court, has decent athletic ability and improved strength with underrated toughness. But some question Zeller’s ability to work in traffic and his explosiveness. He also needs to extend his game with a consistent jump shot. Still, Zeller—whose brother Tyler plays for the Cavaliers and was a first-round pick last year–teems with potential.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Delmar Jones on 4/10/2013 @ 5:43pm EST Said:

I fail to see why you think that CodyZeller decision to go pro was a wise choice. I think that he should stay in school and make himself an elite player as well. I do agree that is a weak draft but does nothing for Zeller as a matter of fact it make him look even less of a player. He was not as impressive as everyone thought he would be at the start of the season he wasn’t even the best player on his team. The Syracuse game should have shown you that he not ready for the next level, of the nine blocks they they had in that game Zeller was the victim five times,he looked like a deer in head lights.From what I saw in that game I’d say that his toughness is overrated and he needs to improve his strength. So what is so wise about his choice to leave school? And as for his brother he stay for four years and it shows.