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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Charity Prather holds 5-month-old son Dylan Prather as Cody Zeller signs his shirt Saturday in Kendallville.

Ex-IU players reflect on future

– Former Indiana men’s basketball player Jordan Hulls is still getting used to that word: former.

A few days from graduation, he and three other former Hoosiers – Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller – are preparing for the next phases of their lives, all in professional basketball at some level.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” Hulls said at an autograph-signing event Saturday in Kendallville. “I’ve been trying not to think about it too much because it kind of stinks knowing that you’re not going to play any more college ball.”

The four gathered at Shepherd’s Chevrolet Buick GMC to sign for fans – some of whom gathered as early as 4 a.m. for the 12:45 p.m. event. Part of the proceeds went to The Hulls Foundation, an organization started by Hulls’ father during his battle with cancer.

The players reflected on careers that included back-to-back Sweet 16s and the resurgence of IU basketball.

“I’ve embraced the whole thing from the beginning to the end,” Watford said. “After you’ve been a part of something for four years, you know, especially a close-knit family like we have, it’s definitely weird seeing it end.”

It’s the same for Oladipo and Zeller, both projected NBA lottery picks. All four players took a short break at season’s end and have been working out together since in preparation for professional careers.

“My life is changing drastically, and it’s going to be really crazy after graduating,” Oladipo said. “Basketball is about to be my profession, and it’s a great feeling. That’s what I wanted all my life.”

In less than two months, the former Hoosiers will have a chance to realize that dream. Oladipo and Zeller are sure-fire first-round picks, while Watford might be on the fringe and Hulls could get a tryout or be an overseas prospect.

Both Zeller and Watford have hired agents to represent them, and Oladipo plans to soon.

“There’s a lot of things – a lot of paperwork, a lot of things you have to get done,” Zeller said. “I’m excited for the opportunity and just enjoying the experience.”

That includes enjoying the final few days the group has in Bloomington before officially being crossed off the Hoosiers’ roster.

And regardless of where he winds up when fall rolls around, Hulls will be watching from an unfamiliar seat.

“I’m sure I’ll get mad at the TV every once in a while,” he said. “But they’re going to work hard, coach Crean and the staff’s going to get them doing things they need to do in order to win, and they still got really good players on the team and guys coming in.

“It’s going to be good.”

smorrison@jg.net

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