His pro career hasn’t started yet, and he won’t know his ultimate NBA destination until next Thursday’s draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But there is one thing Cody Zeller has discovered about life after college.
“It’s nice,” he said by phone Thursday afternoon from Detroit, where the likely lottery pick will work out for the Pistons Friday. “It’s just crazy, because my whole life I haven’t been able to accept a free pair of socks or anything. Now it’s a whole different world. It’s nice doing endorsements and stuff.”
One of those endorsement deals is with the energy drink 5-Hour Energy, for which Zeller recently asked on Twitter, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Climbed Mt. Everest, ate a whole package of Oreos, etc. Reply with #5HEnergy.”
One of the responses came from IU soccer product Eriq Zavaleta. “@CodyZeller craziest? We left Indiana before they made us leave #5HEnergy.”
Zeller may need a 5-Hour Energy before the draft. He has been in high demand both on and off the court since finishing his final exams at Indiana University last month. The very next day Zeller flew to Los Angeles, home of his agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, to begin working out. And it’s been a whirlwind ever since.
“I was there a few weeks, went to Chicago (for pre-draft camp), back to L.A. and then started workouts,” Zeller said. “I’ve been from L.A. to Salt Lake City to Phoenix to Portland, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Sacramento, back to L.A., Philadelphia, Charlotte and in Detroit now. Then I go to Orlando (to work out for the Magic) and then to New York for the draft.”
But he said it’s hard to gauge whether some teams like him more than others.
“All of them are seriously interested,” Zeller said. “It’s a big venture for them, so they do an unbelievable amount of research on your background and get to know you personally.
“It’s tough to tell what will happen on draft night — this year more than most years. It will be interesting to see what happens.”
But the IU All-American is certainly enjoying the process, recently going out to eat with new Charlotte Bobcats assistant coach Patrick Ewing, the former All-Star center of the Knicks.
He also got the chance to reunite with former Indiana teammate Victor Oladipo for a workout in Phoenix.
“It was fun competing against him,” Zeller said. “It brought me back to IU, and it was definitely fun to do that. We’re always comparing stories and doing all that, so it’s good to have someone else go through it with me.”
The highlight, however, might have been Zeller’s ability to put his Kelley School of Business background to good use when Microsoft co-founder and Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen flew in on his helicopter to watch him work out two weeks ago.
“Two of my toughest classes (at Kelley) were Microsoft Excel classes,” Zeller said. “It’s amazing all the stuff you can do with it.
“(Allen)’s obviously a computer genius, but he’s not the most personable guy. But I talked to him about Excel for half of the conversation. I didn’t say it just because he was co-founder of Microsoft. We talked about both Excel and Access for 10-15 minutes.
“Then later I went out with some of the coaches, who said, ‘We have to say no other draft prospect has talked Excel with Paul Allen before.’”
There’s no telling what that means, if anything, come next Thursday night. But at least the whirlwind will finally settle down.
“I think the craziest part is not knowing what city I’m going to,” Zeller said. “I have no control over it and no choice. It’s definitely been fun. I’m just trying to enjoy it all.”