Cody Zeller is getting bigger and better, according to everybody
Dan Dakich is the former Indiana guard turned Indiana assistant turned Indiana (interim) head coach who is now flourishing as a college basketball analyst and talk show host. He also coaches summer basketball. And that's what he was doing a few weeks ago at a tournament in Bloomington when he bumped into Indiana star Cody Zeller.
"And he looked big," Dakich told me by phone. "I mean, big. You know how some guys, when you get around them, they're not as big as you think? And then other guys, you get around them and you're like, 'Oh my god!' I've never done this before -- never asked a kid how tall he is like I'm a fan in an airport. But I was like, 'How tall are you? Have you grown?'"
I asked IU coach Tom Crean about Dakich's words Friday morning.
"Cody is bigger," Crean told me. "And better."
That's bad news for the rest of the Big Ten.
Zeller was already positioned to make a run at National Player of the Year honors next season while Indiana shoots for its first Final Four since 2002 and first national championship since 1987. And now he's bigger (according to Dakich and Crean) than the 6-foot-11, 230 pounds he was listed at last season, and better (according to Dakich and Crean) than the 16 points and six rebounds he averaged as a freshman. Crean said Zeller is approaching 7-feet, and that he's added 15 pounds since arriving at IU. So I can't wait to see him next season when he battles Kentucky's Nerlens Noel at Rupp Arena in a non-conference showdown that ...
We won't get to experience that experience because UK's John Calipari discontinued the Wildcats' home-and-home series with Indiana in favor of a non-traditional schedule he promises will create "experiences," but the point remains the same. Cody Zeller is now bigger and better than he was the last time you saw him play on television, and he'll likely be even bigger and better than he is now by the next time you see him play on television. Big Ten, beware.
"The improvement is gonna be with the way he shoots the ball because he can really shoot the ball, but he lost some confidence last season," Dakich said. "He shot an airball against Butler from the free throw line, and I think he really lost confidence [after that]. He and I talked about it, and he's been working on it. But he can really shoot. Like really, really shoot. And that's what you're gonna see this year -- an improved and more versatile offensive game."
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