This was supposed to be Indiana’s year. Magazine covers. A No. 1 ranking. A No. 1 seed. A few All-American candidates. The Hoosiers looked like the best team in the nation for much of late 2012, and even if they never turned it up before the NCAAs started, their talent convinced some (hint: this guy) they could overcome that.
Instead, they lost to Syracuse in the Sweet 16, and found out this week they won’t have their two best players next year. Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo both declared for this summer’s NBA Draft (Zeller today; Oladipo on Tuesday). Neither one was expected to stick around, but now it’s official: both players are projected lottery picks swinging in opposite directions.
Oladipo is considered a raw player who still has untapped offensive potential. His draft stock has been rising for over a year, and he’s now considered a possible top-five selection. Zeller, on the other hand, went from being a potential No. 1 pick to now late lottery after he failed to dramatically improve this year, marginally increasing his numbers to 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.
“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,” Zeller said in a statement released by the school today. “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.”
With the 2014 Class expected to be particularly strong, I wouldn’t be surprised to see prospects flood this summer’s draft. Zeller, Oladipo, and others like Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett aren’t surprises. Yet we’ve already seen potential first-round picks like Archie Goodwin, C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Steven Adams and Russ Smith declare for the draft despite not having a handle on where they will land. The draft process claims victims every summer. With this class being particularly malleable, I have a feeling they’ll be more sad cases than usual.
Who do you think is making a mistake?
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