After returning to Indiana University to pursue a second shot at an NCAA championship that ultimately fell short again, 7-foot sophomore center Cody Zeller decided that if the Hoosiers are going to win a title, it will be without him.
The talented sophomore and former prep Indiana 2011 Mr. Basketball announced Wednesday afternoon at a press conference that he will leave the school early and make himself eligible for this year's NBA college draft.
The main reason Zeller cited was several key teammates -- mostly upperclassmen that are graduating -- are also leaving the team.
''IU will have a great year next year, but the guys I was closest to are graduating,'' Zeller said.
Zeller also cited the reason that he wants to be involved this summer with the Christian basketball camps his parents and brothers run. NCAA rules prohibit such involvement for current college athletes, even if the camps are non-profit or charitable in nature.
Zeller becomes the second Hoosier star to declare early for the draft in as many days. Teammate Victor Oladipo announced Tuesday -- at the same IU Assembly Hall where Zeller made his intentions official on Wednesday -- that he was also leaving for the NBA.
Indiana lost to Syracuse in the regional semifinals, which pretty much made up Zeller's mind to leave school for the pro ranks.
"Barring injury, I kind of knew it might be my last year, so I enjoyed every minute of it," Zeller said.
"There was a sense of accomplishment playing my last game at Assembly Hall, playing in my last (NCAA) tournament.''
During Zeller's two years with the team, the Hoosiers won 56 games and reached the NCAA tournament regional semifinals both times. Zeller led the Hoosiers in scoring (16.5 points), rebounding (8.1) and blocks (45). He also shot 56.2 percent from the field, nearly 76 percent from the free throw line and was second on the team in steals (37).