Here’s the basketball recruiting truth -- IU needs to get, has to get Cody Zeller and Hanner Perea. Absolutely has to. Both are elite big men and if you’ve followed Indiana basketball, you know how much the Hoosiers need elite big men.
Their last dominating inside player was D.J. White, who developed into a double-double machine by his senior season. IU doesn’t have to have that from a player (although it sure would be nice), but it does need someone who can consistently score inside, rebound, play defense and, well, kick some rump.
Zeller and Perea showed signs of being able to do that at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis this week, although Perea’s sprained ankle limits him.
He’ll heal, of course. His future remains as bright as LeBron James’ contract prospects.
Zeller has a recruiting list longer than my son used to have at Christmas. Indiana is on it. So are Purdue, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Texas, Florida Michigan, Wake Forest and, yes, Butler. The list might grow after Zeller’s opening day performance in front of a bunch of big-time coaches.
Yes, it helps that he’s 6-10 and that he has a strong basketball pedigree with brothers Luke and Tyler. Luke went to Notre Dame. Tyler is at North Carolina. He has a lot of big-time moves and a work ethic that keeps him developing even more.
But maybe more than anything else what makes Zeller special is his attitude. He’s not swayed by style as much as substance. All the bells and whistles associated with major college program facilities, including IU’s Cook Hall practice facility, are nice, but aren’t his top priorities.
Zeller wants to make sure he makes the right decision. He plans on making all five of his official visits this fall. He’s set to make his final decision in time for the November signing period, which is different than Branden Dawson, who likely will wait till the spring before making his decision.
Yes, this leaves IU coach Tom Crean and all the rest of the contenders hoping that in the end, they’ll prevail.
Signs of where Zeller will go are all over the map. Some days IU seems to have the edge. Other days Indiana seems out of the picture. The bottom line, if IU wants to return to big-time status, and it does, it needs big-time players. Zeller and Perea are two of the biggest in their classes.
You can’t get much more truthful than that.