Christian Watford, Cody Zeller return
Both Zeller and Watford will forgo the NBA draft and return to Indiana for the 2012-13 season, the school announced Tuesday morning.
"I grew up hoping that one day I would get the opportunity to play in the NBA, but at this point, I'm not ready for my college experience to be over," Zeller said in a statement.
Zeller's averages of 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 62.4 percent shooting (fourth in the nation) in his freshman season earned him Big Ten co-Freshman of the Year and honorable mention AP All-America honors. His interior play led Indiana to a 27-9 record -- a 15-win improvement from the 2010-11 record of 12-20 -- and the program's first Sweet 16 appearance since 2002.
ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford listed Zeller as a likely top-10 pick in his most recent mock draft. His older brother, North Carolina senior forward Tyler Zeller, also is considered a likely first-round pick.
Watford, who gave Indiana its signature win of the season with a last-second 3-pointer to beat Kentucky on Dec. 10, had his most efficient season as a Hoosier in 2011-12, improving his 3-point field-goal percentage from 38.1 to 43.7 percent. But the junior wasn't beloved by NBA scouts, ranking just No. 131 in Ford's projections.
The two-fold return for Indiana ensures continued high expectations for coach Tom Crean's team, which began the offseason ranked No. 1 in ESPN.com's early preseason poll. The Hoosiers will return all five starters while adding a top-10 recruiting class, led by No. 3-ranked point guard Yogi Ferrell, No. 10-ranked small forward Jeremy Hollowell and No. 15-ranked power forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea.
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