Zeller named Gold Team MVP at Derby Festival Basketball Classic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Cody Zeller definitely doesn’t treat all-star games like they’re meaningless.

The Washington star forward and Indiana signee was back at it again Friday night at the Derby Festival Basketball Classic at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, setting screens, diving on the floor for loose balls and taking charges.

“It’s just how I play,” Zeller said. “I’m just playing to win.”

His Gold Team did, defeating the White Team 126-122 in a game that featured a number of Top 50 players on both sides. His efforts were appreciated, as were his 16 points and nine rebounds, and Zeller was named the Gold Team MVP.

“It’s definitely a great honor winning it with all this talent here tonight,” Zeller said. “I was just trying to find an opening and the guards were finding me, and I owe a lot of credit to them.”

Zeller only scored three of his points in the second half, but the ones he scored were critical in a late comeback. Even more crucial was a charge he took with about a minute left in the game that gave the Gold squad the ball with a one-point lead.

“It was a big play,” Zeller said. “We needed a defensive stop, and I was just doing what the team needed to win.”

Teammate to be Austin Etherington didn’t have as strong of an evening. The ball didn’t come his way much in the first half, and he was just 1-for-3 from the field. He was 0-for-4 in the second half and finished the day 1-for-7 with two points and one rebound against three fouls and two turnovers.

He also fell short in the finals of the 3-point contest at halftime. He finished second to Aaron Cosby, a Seton Hall recruit, with 11 3’s to Cosby’s 13.

“I choked,” Etherington said. “I’ll say that. I was feeling it, and then I just didn’t come through in the end. But it’s alright, I had fun.”

Etherington, though, was thrilled as always to see Zeller succeed.

“It’s awesome how hard he plays and how good he is,” Etherington said. “I just hope he’s not a one-and-done, that’s all I got to say. I hope he stays a couple years.”

14 comments

  1. What a joke! Zeller didn’t even lead his team in points , rebounds or assists. LaQuinton Ross had 10 more points 5 more rebounds and 3 more assists.

  2. Luther-

    Yes, but Cody is a nice, Christian white kid from the state of Indiana…isn’t that all that matters?

    I’m only half-kidding… (half) joking aside, Cody is a great guy that will make a good Hoosier, but he is not the savior; let’s not pretend he will have an Eric Gordon or even Bracey Wright-type impact his first year.

  3. Luther and H.T. –

    I think Zeller will have a major impact on next year’s team. He doesn’t need to be the highest scorer or rebounder to have a big impact. He was neither in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic, but notice that he was chosen as the MVP. That’s because Zeller plays hard the whole game, plays very good defense, and is a team player on offense. He can score, but just as important, he draws double teams and is stellar at passing out of it to cutters or 3-point shooters. Others are going to find themselves open more because of the pressure and defenders he draws. Whoever plays in the post with him (Pritchard, Elston) is going to have a lot more success next year because of Zeller.

    He isn’t going to turn us into champions next year, but he’s going to help us win more games and take a significant step on our road back.

    Go Hoosiers!

  4. Being named MVP is no joke. And if you understand basketball, the MVP does not always score the most points.
    And can we keep the race/religion comments, even when written in jest, off this blog. Just not appropriate.

  5. Good points by Boomer and Podunker. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a big impact from Cody, but I see him more as a guy whose will increase exponentially from year to year, with year 1 being a learning year.

    As for the “race” comments, I don’t think they are as inappropriate as you do. These things are OK to talk about. Basketball in Indiana has had a racial dimension for a long time; the image of the, pure, corn-fed, hard working white kid, as well as the ultra-conservative, militaristic white general for a coach, are the symbols of Indiana basketball. When fans beg for a return to the past a lot of them are subconsciously longing for a “whitening” and a “toughening”.

    I don’t think it’s off-base to associate some of the recently mania over Zeller with a love of the pure, homespun clean white image of Indiana basketball.

    Just my thoughts.

  6. HT, I am pretty white but I beg for a return to the past so IU wins again. I do like tough hard nosed players but I don’t care what race they are as long as they are classy on and off the court.

  7. Keith Smart was MVP of the title game and he was not the leading scorer. While he hit the winning shot he was far from the best player for most of the game, either. Sometimes it’s when you make the plays.

  8. Just your thoughts, H.T.?

    “Basketball in Indiana has had a racial dimension for a long time; the image of the, pure, corn-fed, hard working white kid, as well as the ultra-conservative, militaristic white general for a coach, are the symbols of Indiana basketball. When fans beg for a return to the past a lot of them are subconsciously longing for a “whitening” and a “toughening”.

    The image of the “pure (???)…hard working white kid (???)…the “militaristic white general…” (???) (do you even know what the word militaristic means?). “…[these]are the symbol of Indiana basketball”. Then you suggest that this ‘toughening” and “whitening” is “subconsciously” what Indiana fans want to go back to; …a “pure, homespun clean white image of Indiana basketball…” Like…ahhh, like….like…Walt Bellamy…Keith Smart…Isiah Thomas…Ray Tolbert…Quinn Buckner….Scott May…Mike Woodson…Landon Turner….I could go on for pages.

    And, you forget that the Hoosiers, before Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue and Wisconsin…,awarded the basketball head-coaching job opportunity to a deserving, well schooled assistant who happened to be Black.(Whether it worked out or not was a basketball issue…not a racial one).

    I do think you introduce one important point though; we need to purify our fans and get rid of those whose ignorance is an embarrassment to the rest of us and who insist on sharing that ignorance publicly.

    Note: (I hate political correctness; this vocabulary version is moderated by the fact that my parents taught me not to call s****d people s*u**d).

    JPat, get this guy!!

  9. When it came to the issue of race in evaluating, recruiting and coaching BB talent, RMK was color blind.

  10. Totally agree with Hoosier Clarion…his was a way post-race world here individuals were good according to their character, their heart, their effort and their ability to amalgamate their individual contribution it into the one-team accomplishment.

  11. HT, I became a fanatatical Hoosier fan 45 years ago after witnesing my first IU BB game in B-town. Race may be an issue to a very small and declining percentage of Hoosier BB fans, but I’ve never been aware of it. And frankly, to the vast majority of Hoosier fans, I don’t believe it matters one bit. Perhaps your comments reveal your own bias. Maybe you just had a brain cramp while writing that comment. Regardless, some introspection may be of value to you.

    One of my proudest moments as a Hoosier fan was the day Landon Turner was wheeled on to the court at Assembly Hall the winter after his tragic car accident. The standing ovation and deafening cheers he received lasted for what seemed like an hour. The ovation had to have set a record for noise and duration at Assembly Hall, if not the NCAA. The love the Hoosier Nation displayed for that young man could not have been greater, regardless of his race. He was not a black player or a white player, he was a Hoosier, and about 18,000 people stood, clapped their hands, cried, prayed and shouted their appreciation, love and encouragement to one of our own. Anyone that was there that night will remember the beauty of those moments as “the symbol of Indiana basketball.”

  12. Tsao, thanks for the vote of confidence but I had to take the high road on this one and make my comment short and sweet. There were so many points that came up in my mind but race on a blog is a tough one to fight. I have done it a couple times in the past on here and it makes the two of us from last week seem pretty innocent. Take care!

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