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Cody Zeller makes his case for NBA Draft

By Rick Bonnell
rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com

This might not endear him to ACC fans, but here’s how Indiana big man Cody Zeller makes his sales pitch to NBA teams:

"(The Big Ten) was the best league in the country this year. Every night you were going against a first-rounder," said Zeller, who worked out for the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Zeller has a point; between Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and the Hoosiers, it was quite a men’s basketball conference this past season. Zeller, a 7-foot sophomore, was certainly tested. He averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds, and figures to be a lottery pick.

There was a time last fall when Zeller was talked about as perhaps the best player in the 2013 draft. Then he was overshadowed by the rise of fellow Hoosier Victor Oladipo. It’s indicative of his uncertain status in next Thursday’s draft that Zeller has already auditioned for eight teams.

"There are going to be a lot of moving parts, a lot of things that could happen on draft night," Zeller said. "So I try to impress them all."

Zeller benefits from having two older brothers already playing in the NBA. Luke is with the Phoenix Suns and Tyler, a former star at North Carolina, plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That’s a plus, Cody said, but their advice helps only so much.

"They always go through things before me. They told me to enjoy the process because it goes fast," Zeller said.

Obviously the Bobcats need help inside, particularly scoring, so Zeller would make some sense in Charlotte. Whether they could justify using the No. 4 pick on him, relative to other candidates, is debatable.

What does Zeller see as his distinctive attribute?

"More than anything my work ethic. It’s carried me to this point and it will carry me a long ways," Zeller said. "Day-of-game, after the game, I’ll always come in the same way."

The Bobcats worked out a dozen players in two sessions Wednesday. Zeller was the only one who’d be a candidate for the fourth pick. The Bobcats have no second-round pick; it goes to the Oklahoma City Thunder to complete the Byron Mullens trade.

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