BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 19: Cody Zeller#40 of the Indiana Hoosiers dribbles the ball during the game against the Howard Bison at Assembly Hall on December 19, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana won 107-50. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Cody Zeller seems to be following in the footsteps on the NBA's great little brothers early at Indiana. Plus, the NBA Draft Toolbox looks at the Hoosiers' Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo and more.
Of the 44 American Presidents, only 4 were the youngest child in their family. The majority have been either first-born sons (Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton) or only children (FDR).
While the effects of birth order on personal development are still a controversial subject in psychology, there's a fairly simple explanation for why older brothers are well suited to being leaders of of men: they learned how growing up. Especially in families with multiple children, the oldest often babysits, tutors and watches out for their younger siblings.
Conversely, the youngest child can learn from the mistakes of their oldest siblings. In sports, they "play up" against their older brothers and their friends for most of their lives.
Indiana's Cody Zeller looked across his dinner table and saw two players better than him everyday: his older brothers Luke (Notre Dame) and Tyler (UNC). In contrast, Dwight Howard rarely faced players as talented as he is until the NBA. Why would he need an advanced post game coming out of high school? He could dunk at will on nearly everyone he ever played on the AAU circuit.
Michael Jordan had two older brothers who routinely beat him in 1-on-1 backyard contests. Derrick Rose had three older brothers shepherding him through Chicago's South Side. One of the main characters in Darcy Frey's incredible 1993 book The Last Shot is a 14-year old Stephon Marbury, the last hope of a family stuck in one of the worst housing projects in the country who had already watched three sons squander their talent without making the NBA.
Of course, birth order isn't everything. There are plenty of younger brothers in college -- Chris Smith (Louisville), Todd Mayo (Marquette), E.J. Singler (Oregon) -- who aren't as good as their older siblings.
The difference is, Cody Zeller, at 6'11 and 230 pounds, is as big and as athletic as his older brothers.
He's also built more proportionally than Tyler, whose high center of gravity makes it harder for him to put on weight and hold position in the low post. There's no comparing their respective freshman seasons, as Tyler barely got off the bench at Chapel Hill while Cody has been the centerpiece of Indiana's resurgence as a national power.
He's hardly a finished product, scoring only 4 points while being pushed around by a long and athletic Michigan State frontline in a loss last week. But if he did declare for the draft, he'd probably go higher than his older brother.
That's the power birth order can have, and it's one of the main reasons Duke fans should be optimistic about Marshall Plumlee, younger brother of Miles and Mason.
Here's a look at all of Indiana's draft prospects.
6'9 junior forward
- Shot creation: An excellent ballhandler and shooter at 6'9. Can bully smaller defenders in the post with a soft jump-hook. Doesn't have the elite athleticism of an NBA All-Star, but is a very smart player who knows how to play off a low post threat like Zeller. Averaging 12.9 points on 45.8 percent shooting as a junior.
- Defense: The big question about his ability to transition to the next level. At 6'9 and 225 pounds, will he have strength to defend NBA fours in the post or the foot-speed to defend NBA threes on the perimeter?
- Outside shot: Pure three-point shooter with ability to catch-and-shoot off the bounce, in transition or off screens. Shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc this season, with his buzzer-beater against Kentucky likely to be remembered forever in Bloomington.
- Passing: Very comfortable playing with the ball. Can lead the break and is an excellent high post player, capable of hitting cutters and feeding Zeller in the low post. Averaging 1.3 assists and 1.6 turnovers a game this year.
- Rebounding: Tough player who can grab boards in traffic, but floats a lot on the perimeter and has a career average of only 5.6 rebounds a game.
- Best case: A skilled 6'9+ forward who can shoot, handle and pass while playing decent interior defense -- Al Harrington.
- Worst case: A "3.5" who can't efficiently create his own shot or defend an NBA position -- Jeff Green.
6'5 sophomore shooting guard
- Shot creation: An extremely athletic guard with good ball-handling skills. Can get to the rim and finish over the top of NBA-caliber front-lines like Kentucky as well as pull up for the mid-range J. Averaging 12.2 points on 51.8 percent shooting as a sophomore.
- Defense: A defensive terror with a strong 6'5 frame, long wingspan and quick feet. Changed flow of Ohio State game by forcing two turnovers from Aaron Craft, an extremely skilled PG, in the open court. Averaging 1.9 steals and 0.5 blocks this season.
- Outside shot: A lot of room for improvement, has a decent looking release but is a very inconsistent shooter. Career 64.5 percent free throw shooter whose made only 6-21 on threes this year.
- Passing: Can lead the break and flashes ability to find teammates on the drive, but still primarily a score-first player at this point. Averaging 1.7 assists and 1.8 turnovers as a sophomore.
- Rebounding: Grabs boards way above the rim with huge vertical, strong hands and long arms. Averaging 5.4 rebounds a game this season, a phenomenal number for a guard.
- Best case: Athletic guard capable of defending multiple perimeter positions while using slashing ability to be a secondary option offensively -- Gerald Henderson.
- Worst case: Off-ball role player whose lack of an outside shot limits playing time -- Sam Young.
6'5 senior shooting guard
- Shot creation: Reasonably athletic guard with decent ballhandling skills who forces the action at times. Uses threat of outside shot and long wingspan to get into the lane. Emergence of younger players has lessened offensive role, scoring 9.0 points a game on 39.1 percent shooting as a senior.
- Defense: Not an elite athlete but a capable perimeter defender with a career average of 0.9 steals.
- Outside shot: Career 30.2 percent three-point shooter who has improved long-distance shot in four years in Bloomington. Only 7-21 from beyond the arc this season.
- Passing: A willing passer with excellent vision at 6'5, career averages of 3.4 assists and 3.1 turnovers a game.
- Rebounding: Holds own on glass with career average of 3.4 rebounds a game.
- Best case: Replacement-level shooting guard who knocks down open threes, moves ball on the perimeter and plays tough individual defense -- Keith Bogans.
- Worst case: Lack of a consistent three-point shot or elite athleticism prevents NBA career from ever getting going -- D.J. Strawberry.
Guys worth keeping an eye on down the road:
Cody Zeller -- 6'11 freshman center. The Hoosiers' best NBA prospect, averaging 14.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals on 64.3 percent shooting as a freshman. Needs to gain muscle to better hold position against 240-250 lb. centers at the next level as well as improve mid-range J. Would be a first-round pick this year, but given family history, hard to see him going pro with so much room for growth in college.
Will Sheehey -- 6'6 sophomore wing. An aggressive scorer off the bench for Tom Crean, averaging 10.7 points on 48.1 percent shooting before injuring his ankle in late December. A good athlete with a good-looking three-point shot who should get more opportunities to create offense and take challenging defensive assignments as Watford and Oladipo leave.