Cody Zeller's Year to Date

BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 10: Cody Zeller #40 of the Indiana Hoosiers dunks the ball during the Indiana 73-72 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats at Assembly Hall on December 10, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

This news came out a week ago, but I thought now would be a good time to address it with Wisconsin’s big men coming up tomorrow. Cody Zeller has matched and exceeded all expectations put on him so far and it is making an impact on the national scene. Zeller is currently one of the 25 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award. The Wooden Award is similar to football’s Heisman Award, except in basketball there are 5 similar national awards (Naismith, AP, Rupp and Robertson). Sometimes all five go to one guy but usually the top three or so players split the five awards. Anyway it is still quite an honor to be nominated for any of them.

Zeller’s season to date has him with the nation’s best players as one of them and that should be honor enough. ESPN’s Andy Katz claims he has no chance at actually winning the award and I would agree, but as Katz stated, "it’s amazing he is on the list". Katz for the record also puts Zeller on his second team of mid-season All-Americans. That I would lean towards agreeing with as well. Now, let’s take a look at what Zeller has done to get himself this recognition so far.

The rough numbers are that Zeller is averaging 15.1 points per game, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Those numbers alone are pretty impressive, considering he is used on only 22% of IU’s possessions. His efficiency at the rim and his recently discovered ability to face up and take his man to the hole from the perimeter make him a constant threat in the back of an opposing defense’s mind. He is currently 8th in ppg in the conference, 5th in rebounding, 4th in blocks, 1st in FG% and owns the highest tally of Freshman of the Week honors at 5. As a freshman he has been a true force so far.

Taking a look at more advanced metrics tells an even more becoming story of the Zeller rise to prominence. Zeller is 2nd in the conference with an adjusted offensive rating of 129.3, behind only Purdue’s Ryne Smith who is used 9% less on game possessions. The closest player with a similar amount of game usage would be Jared Sullinger at 123.0. Zeller’s offensive rating is good enough for 17th in the nation with only 4 ahead of him getting more usage. As an efficiency scorer, Zeller is 12th in effective FG% and 4th in raw shooting %.

As can be seen, Zeller is making a rock solid case to be at least Freshman of the Year in the B1G. He is also bullying his way into the discussion of B1G Player of the Year, but is still the unlikely victor. If Indiana puts together a miraculous charge and wins the conference with Zeller at the head of it, I’d imagine he has to be the winner. Either way, even if he doesn’t get any more accolades he has proven to be a beast for the Hoosiers and certainly capable of leading a National Championship contender in the near future.

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