Tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET the NBA Draft kicks off from Madison Square
Garden in New York City. It's going to be a special one for Hoosier
fans as Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are both projected to go in the
lottery part of the draft (first 14 picks).
"It's what you've been dreaming about all your life and now it's 24
hours away and you're really anxious," said Oladipo yesterday.
"Definitely (have) butterflies but
hard work definitely does pay off."
"Crazy that months, even years of research comes down to five minutes
or one night," said Zeller.
You have to go back to the draft after Indiana's perfect season of 1976
to find two Hoosiers picked as early as Oladipo and Zeller are
projected to go tonight. That year Scott May went No. 2 overall to
Chicago, Quinn Buckner went No. 7 to Milwaukee and Bobby Wilkerson went
No. 11 to Seattle.
"Says a lot about the program," said Zeller. "Coach (Tom) Crean
both of us. Says a lot about recruiting later on. (Indiana) will
continue to grow as a program and get top recruits because this (high
NBA picks) is going to be a continuing trend."
Oladipo has been talked about as the potential number one overall pick
to Cleveland, although the more recent speculation is the Cavaliers
will go with a big man, specifically Kentucky's Nerlens Noel or
Maryland's Alex Len.
Orlando has the number two overall selection, and the Magic media guys
were all over the 6-foot-5 guard yesterday as Oladipo's name remains
strongly in play for that choice.
"I could help them rebuild," said Oladipo to one Orlando reporter. "At
Indiana we rebuilt from scratch. I could help impact winning on both
ends of the court."
His hometown Wizards have pick No. 3 but with Bradley Beal coming off a
sterling rookie season at the two guard spot, playing near home seems
unlikely. Charlotte has the No. 4 overall pick followed by Phoenix.
That No. 5 pick by the Suns is the most popular mock draft selection
for the Hoosier All-American.
But you never know what may happen on draft night. There are rumors
that Minnesota is working to trade up to grab Oladipo or Ben McLemore.
The Timberwolves have the No. 9 and No. 26 picks and reportedly willing to ship forward Derrick Williams, the second overall pick just two years ago.
"I think a lot of people might be shocked by some things," said
Oladipo. "We'll see.
There's no telling what happens, that's what it's the NBA draft. You
don't know if they'll be trades. You might be drafted in one city and
five minutes be going to another one. That's the beauty of it."
Zeller has been mentioned as early as No. 2 and there's some recent
buzz about the Bobcats liking him at No. 4. The most popular mock draft
choice, however, for the Indiana big man has been Philadelphia at No.
The 76ers need frontcourt help and yesterday the Philly media was all
over the 7-footer in the interview sessions.
"It's high (Philadelphia interest), but I don't know if I'll be around
at No. 11, so we'll see," said Zeller.
In other words, he's pretty hopeful of landing among the top 10 picks.
Sacramento at No. 7 could use some frontcourt help for but the Kings
also may grab a point guard such as Trey Burke, Michael
Carter-Williams or C.J. McCollum. Teams picking later that need help
inside could also trade up into top 10. The southern Indiana native
added intrigue with some eye popping vertical and speed numbers at the
NBA Draft Combine in Chicago and has reportedly impressed in individual
"These workouts have gone very well, so hopefully I won't be sitting
there too long," said Zeller. "It's a crazy process. You don't know
what's going to happen. I'm just excited to find out where I'm going to
be playing and what city I'm going to be living in."
His shooting abilities have been on display in those workouts. That's
important as he's likely slated to move to the four spot in the NBA.
"I've always been able to shoot throughout high school and AAU, so I
didn't have to make any major changes," said Zeller. "I just wanted to
be all to show them I could shoot it well or be able to to that at the
He's confident enough in that skill that he's picked one of the top
shooting big men in the league to look emulate going forward.
"I've drawn a lot of comparisons to LaMarcus Aldridge," said Zeller.
Just how he
plays in the mid-post. He's an underrated passer. I'm obviously not to
that point yet but hopefully things in that direction."
As the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Oladipo gets
compared often to Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies. The 6-foot-4
Allen was on this year's NBA All-Defensive First Team.
"Actually his agent is my agent, we watch a lot of Tony Allen," said
a great defender, works so hard on defense. I definitely try to model
him, no question."
While his draft status has skyrocketed, Oladipo is trying to remain
grounded as we countdown to the ESPN draft broadcast, which begins
tonight at 7 p.m. ET.
"It's pretty cool that it's rising but at the same time, this is just
the beginning," said Oladipo. "Getting drafted is just where it starts.
Way more things from there that you have to accomplish."