Fresh from successful college seasons, former Indiana University hoop standouts Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were hot commodities in Thursday’s NBA Draft. Oladipo went second overall to Orlando while Zeller was chosen with the fourth overall choice by the Charlotte Bobcats.
Oladipo’s stock soared through a breakout junior campaign in Bloomington. He became the highest Indiana player taken since 1981 when Isiah Thomas went No. 2 overall to the Detroit Pistons. His selection served as another landmark in his meteoric rise. The unheralded recruit was ranked as the No. 144 player in the Class of 2010 and wasn’t even an all-conference player in the 2011-12 season, but thanks to his work ethic and athletic skills, he was named a first-team All-American as well as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
“I’m just gonna come in and help the program,” Oladipo told ESPN as soon as he was picked. I’m gonna come in and help impact the program in a positive way on both ends of the floor. I’m gonna come in. I’m gonna work my butt off. I’m gonna bring the work ethic that they’ve probably never seen before, because I want it that bad. I’m gonna help that program get back to where it needs to be and that’s getting wins.”
Oladipo averaged 13.6 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 59.9 percent from the field and leading the Big Ten with 2.2 steals per game during the 2012-13 campaign.
“Victor’s been a guy we’ve followed all year long,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan told reporters. “Our scouting staff did an excellent job of identifying him early as somebody who could be a possible fit. We just really like what he’s about. We like his work ethic. We like his ability to impact both ends of the floor, and we like that he plays efficient basketball, which is always a good thing. We’re excited.”
Meanwhile, Zeller, once projected as a possible number one overall pick, is headed to Charlotte to help the woebegone Bobcats through their rebuilding processs. His star slipped somewhat through his sophomore season in Bloomington, but some of that had to do with Oladipo’s development. Zeller was a first-team All-Big Ten pick this season and an All-American. He led the Hoosiers with 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 56.2 percent from the field.
Zeller’s size, work ethic, and all-around skills should help to see the floor early. He said the fact that two IU players were selected that high speaks volumes about the Hoosiers program. “It says a lot about our coaching staff. It says a lot about the hard work we’ve put in. I think Indiana’s going to be good for a long time.”