Indiana’s Zeller a ’5-year old in 7-footer’s body’
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — So much has been written about Cody Zeller, the youngest of three extremely talented basketball-playing brothers with perhaps the greatest upside of all.
So much has been written about Cody Zeller, the face of Indiana basketball’s revival and the guy who led the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16 last season.
So little has been written about Cody Zeller, Finding Nemo fan.
“People always make fun of me because I like animated movies,” Zeller says, laughing. “All my friends tell me I’m like a 5-year-old in a 7-footer’s body.”
But it makes sense for Zeller, 20. It’s things like movies (Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. in particular) and goofing around on his Facebook and Twitter pages that help him deal with the rest of it — the expectations, the hype and the pressure.
“He’s somebody who can laugh at himself,” Indiana coach Tom Crean says. “We saw that at different times last year. I’d be sitting at a team meal, and (forward) Derek Elston or someone would be cracking jokes on Cody, and Cody would be laughing the hardest. That’s a great sign.
“Cody is a very serious-minded person with a very driven attitude, but he does not take himself too seriously at all.”
Zeller knew when he committed to Indiana that extra attention and added scrutiny were part of the package, and he’d had experience dealing with this kind of pressure. His older brothers, Luke and Tyler, were both named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball (Luke in 2005 and Tyler in 2008) and McDonald’s All-Americans. Both led Washington High to at least one state championship.
“Even when my brothers Luke and Tyler were in high school, (people) were already talking about when I would come up — even when I was in junior high,” Zeller says. “I’ve kind of been used to expectations. I just learned not to worry about them and just play my game.”
Not worrying seemed to work. Zeller was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 2011 and was a McDonald’s All-American in his senior year of high school. He led Washington High to three state titles — the same number as his brothers combined.