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Cody Zeller, Christian Watford both returning to Indiana

Apr 10, 2012, 11:36 AM EST

Christian Watford, Cody Zeller AP

That cheer coming from Bloomington – and most of the state of Indiana – you heard this morning? That was Hooisers fans who heard the news that Cody Zeller and Christian Watford will return for the 2012-13 season.

Indiana now has its top two scorers back from a 27-9 Sweet 16 team that was one of two to beat Kentucky. Add in a top 5 recruiting class for 2012 and it could be a big season for Tom Crean’s team.

Zeller, the Big Ten co-freshman of the year, is an All-America candidate who was the Hoosiers’ top scorer (15.6 ppg) and rebounder (6.6 rpg). He likely passed on being a lottery pick (some sites had him as a top 5 selection) to play another season in Bloomington. That’ll earn him a warm place in the hearts of Indiana fans.

“Coach Crean and my family were very supportive and helpful as I made my decision,’’ Zeller said in a release from the school. “My college experience at IU this year has exceeded my expectations, on and off the court. I look forward to playing at Assembly Hall next year in front of the greatest fans in the country.’’

Watford is perhaps best known for hitting the game-winning 3-pointer against Kentucky, but he’ll be the Big Ten’s active scoring leader next year. No small thing.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to complete my degree and to continue restoring the winning tradition at IU,’’ he said in the release.

The only thing that’ll prevent Indiana from starting the 2012-13 season No. 1? If Kentucky lands the top two recruits for 2012.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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