Cody Zeller: ‘I’m not going to have a Tyler moment’

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We all know how good Cody Zeller is and how good he is going to be this season.

There’s a reason that he’s the Preseason Player of the Year according to, well, just about everyone. And he’s the biggest reason that Indiana is the preseason No. 1 team in the country according to those same folks.

So, again, you don’t need me to explain to you just how talented the youngest Zeller is on a basketball court.

What many of us don’t know about Zeller is how he is off the court. And based off of this terrific profile from Matt Crossman of The Sporting News, it seems like Zeller is a pretty terrific kids.

There are two anecdotes in particular that I want to point out:

When Cody Zeller was in high school, his mom worked in the athletic department. He often hid her stapler in the ceiling panels, which he could reach from his tiptoes. He did the same thing with teachers’ lesson plans. He also liked to get to class early and move the clock ahead 10 minutes.

That’s pretty funny. And smart, too, especially if he can convince the teachers to end class 10 minutes early.

This is the one that sticks out to me, however:

Last season, when Tyler Zeller played for North Carolina, Duke’s Austin Rivers hit a last-second 3-pointer to lift Duke over UNC, one of the most dramatic shots in the history of that rivalry. Tyler was criticized for not getting in Rivers’ face to contest the shot.

A few months later, Indiana was in the closing seconds against VCU in the NCAA Tournament. VCU had the ball with a chance to win. In the huddle, as Indiana discussed defensive switches, Cody vowed to be aggressive. “I even told someone, ‘You better believe I’m going to get out. I’m not going to have a Tyler moment.’ ”

When the play started, Cody blitzed a screen and jumped out on the ballhandler at the 3-point line. That forced the VCU player to drive into the lane. He had no chance to shoot over Zeller, so he passed to a man on the wing. He missed the shot, and the Hoosiers won.

He’s not only talented. He understands the game, but he also understands he still has room to grow and improve. He’s willing to learn.

That’s a valuable trait for a player to have.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.