Seven-foot sophomore center Cody Zeller, the main reason Indiana is the preseason No. 1 for the first time in 33 years, was one vote shy of being a unanimous selection for the preseason All-America team.
Zeller, who averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 62.3 percent from the field, received 64 votes from the national media panel which selects the weekly Top 25.
Also on the team announced Monday were junior forwards Doug McDermott, of Creighton, and Deshaun Thomas, of Ohio State, and three guards — seniors Isaiah Canaan, of Murray State, and C.J. McCollum, of Lehigh, and sophomore Trey Burke, of Michigan.
McDermott was named on 62 ballots, while Canaan was on 43 and Thomas 26. McCollum and Burke tied for the fifth spot with 16 votes each.
Zeller is one of five starters back for the Hoosiers and when a top-flight recruiting class is added in there are a lot expectations for the No. 1 team.
“I don’t know that we’ve really set any goals as a team, but obviously, we want to win a national championship,” Zeller said. “We’re not going to guarantee anything. We’re just going to play and see where it takes us.”
McDermott, who averaged 22.9 points (third in the nation) and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 60.1 percent from the field and 48.6 percent on 3s for the Bluejays last season in earning first-team All-America honors, has the added pressure of playing for his father, Greg.
Canaan averaged 19.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 45.6 percent from 3-point range.
Thomas averaged 16 points and 5.5 rebounds a game last season playing in the same frontcourt with first-team All-America Jared Sullinger. While Sullinger left for the NBA, Thomas decided to come back and join two other returning starters for the Buckeyes.
McCollum averaged 21.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season, leading the Mountain Hawks in
all three categories. He really opened eyes when he scored 30 points in Lehigh’s NCAA tournament upset of Duke.
“C.J. has been a very reliable performer on the floor and has grown as a leader over the course of his career,” Lehigh coach Brett Reed said. “Our team has a great deal of confidence because C.J. exudes confidence in his performance and that ultimately transfers to his teammates. They feel more confident in their ability because he handles pressure situations and adversity very well.”
The 6-foot Burke averaged 14.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists in a freshman season that saw the Wolverines crack the top 10 and share the Big Ten title.
“I’m pumped,” Burke said of the upcoming season. “I’m really excited. The level of talent we have, I’m excited to see how far we can go.”
Zeller, McCollum and Burke all were honorable mention selections last season.