On December 12, 2009, Indiana’s Maurice Creek scored 31 points on a Kentucky team loaded with NBA talent. After three major injuries in 22 months, he’s thriving at George Washington University.
Virginia Commonwealth University visits George Washington University on Tuesday, January 14th at 7:00 PM. In addition to having a story worth telling, Creek leads the Colonials in scoring with 14.8 PPG.
One year removed from the firing of Kelvin Sampson, the 2009 Indiana Hoosiers finished the season 6-25 and 1-17 in the Big Ten. Despite receiving scholarship offers from Marquette, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Texas, Maurice Creek decided to go to Bloomington with the goal of reviving the program and winning a national championship before pursuing a very likely career in the NBA.
On December 12, 2009, Creek scored 31 points on 9-of-14 shooting against a Kentucky team that included John Wall (Washington Wizards), Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix Suns), Darius Miller (New Orleans Pelicans), and Demarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings). He followed it up with 29 points against North Carolina Central. Nine days later he fractured his left kneecap which required season ending surgery.
After starting 6-6, the Hoosiers went 4-15 without Creek. He returned for his sophomore campaign a step slower and a spot deeper on the depth chart but fought hard nonetheless averaging 8.3 PPG. 18 games into the season Indiana shut down Creek because of a stress fracture in his right kneecap.
Still, the 6-foot-5 guard with NBA aspirations entered his second major rehab intent on helping the Hoosiers win. The addition of Cody Zeller for the 2011-12 season offered hope to a blue-blood program desperate for wins and an injured player hungry for success. Weeks before the start of practice for the 2011-12 season, Creek tore his achilles tendon on stairs not even playing basketball. His 31 point outburst against Kentucky seemed a distant memory after three major injuries in 22 months and three difficult rehabs.
Creek returned to Indiana and averaged 1.8 PPG last season but his role was limited behind guards like Victor Oladipo, Yogi Ferrell, and Will Sheehey. At the end of the season he decided to transfer closer to home. In an era when the graduate-transfer rule is regularly mocked by the media, Creek’s is a heartwarming story for all of the right reasons.
George Washington was the perfect fit. The Colonials returned four freshman starters from a defensively sound team that lacked outside shooting. After spending years literally trying to get his legs under him while also getting an opportunity to play, Creek leads the Colonials with 14.8 PPG, he is shooting 40% from 3-point range, and he is the spark that has transformed their offense from a weakness to a strength.
In the era of one-and-dones, rapid transfers, and possibly illiterate basketball players, Maurice Creek is an important reminder that most college athletes are humans working hard to find success on and off the court–often times despite adversity. For Creek that adversity was greater than most.
On Tuesday, Ram fans should bring the HAVOC! to the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington D.C. They should don the Black & Gold and try to psych players out with premature shot-clock countdowns and meow chants, but before screaming “who cares” during Maurice Creek’s introduction, tip your horns and acknowledge that few would have powered through after their third injury in 22 months, and even fewer would have led a team to 13-3 and a chance to contend in the Atlantic 10.