Skip to content

Maurice Creek exemplifies everything that’s right about the grad transfer rule

Oct 22, 2013, 3:26 PM EDT

Coppin State v Indiana Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Spurred on by the Summer of Johnny Football and the ongoing lawsuit filed by Ed O’Bannon, the tide is seemingly beginning to turn against the NCAA as they remain a bastion of the fallacy of amateurism. A constant barrage of heavy media criticism will do that, and we’ve reached a point where the idea of student-athlete rights and proper compensation seems like a legitimate possibility.

But one area where many remain torn is on the idea of transfers. Now, I’m firmly against restricting the movements of unpaid amateurs and I believe that the idea of the transfer market becoming “college basketball free agency” is overblown, but I figured that we could all agree that graduate transfer rule is one that is worth keeping around. You know, because it allows a student-athlete to play immediately if he transfers to pursue a graduate degree with eligibility remaining.

Turns out that’s the wrong assumption to make.

“I positively believe a fifth-year guy should not be able to play right away,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said over the summer. “All they’re doing is looking at curriculum, finding a program that a school doesn’t have. Are they really trying to get a master’s degree? … There’s a market out there for this. You take guys through summer school and give them every academic advantage and then they graduate and then they can just go to another school.”

And yes, there are players that take full advantage of this rule, graduating in three or four years and following that up by working towards their graduate degree at a place where they may be able to play a higher level of basketball. The gall of those student-athletes.

But it also works the other way, and eliminating the rule would eliminate opportunities for kids like Maurice Creek.

You should recognize that name. Creek was a star as a freshman at Indiana, averaging almost 17 points, and putting 31 on Kentucky, during the 2009-2010 season. But Creek’s career as a Hoosier was derailed by injury. There was the gruesome broken kneecap he suffered midway through his freshman year. There was the stress fracture he had in his other kneecap as a sophomore. That, too, required surgery. Then there was the Achilles’ tendon that he ruptured as a junior. All told, Creek’s four seasons at Indiana saw him rehab his way through three major surgeries.

“Sitting down’s pretty tough, because you want to be out there every day,” Creek told NBCSports.com after practice at George Washington last week. “Sometimes I think back to all the injuries and I’m like, ‘man, what did I get myself into? Do I want to keep doing this to myself?'”

Creek worked through all of the injuries, motivated by the words of encouragement from guys like Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford. “Just keep working hard,” they would say. “Your time will come.”

But it never did at Indiana. As a fourth-year junior with two surgically-repaired, Creek was no longer needed. Indiana had recruited over him. He had received a scholarship for four years. He had earned his degree. And now it was time for him to move on, and thanks to the graduate transfer rule, Creek would be able to transfer anywhere in the country to use his final season of eligibility.

Creek, who is from just outside D.C. in Oxon Hill, Md., found a landing spot at GW, and the fit couldn’t be more perfect. The Colonials are a young, but promising team. Redshirt senior Isaiah Armwood is back, and he’ll be joined up front by sophomores Kevin Larsen, a physical presence in the paint, and Patricio Garino, a long, athletic wing from Argentina. Toss in a back court that includes Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage, and the only thing GW was missing heading into the season was a veteran back court presence that would be able to knock down threes.

That sums up Creek’s game pretty perfectly.

“I really like how aggressive and athletic we are,” Creek, who wants to be a coach and will be pursuing his graduate degree in Human Leadership and Development, said. “My shooting abilities with that, that’s championship caliber.”

The fit was just that much more snug given the proximity of Creek’s family and friends to GW’s Foggy Bottom locale.

“Going to Indiana, my parents couldn’t catch many of the games,” he said, although their presence will add a different kind of pressure than he was used to back in Bloomington. “Being back home all my friends and family want to go to my games now, and it’s like [now I] have, I don’t want to say more pressure, but you want to be more successful because you’re back at home where really nobody is worrying about [the potential] we have.”

It’s a feel-good story and a great opportunity for Creek, one that was only made possibly by the graduate transfer rule.

But it belies the bigger point here.

“If the rule wasn’t in place, I still probably would have moved on,” Creek said.

That’s because Indiana didn’t have any scholarships left to give. It’s the same thing that happened to fan favorite and sharp-shooter Matt Roth last summer. Creek may have had eligibility left, but since he was leaving after four years with a degree in hand, Tom Crean could say that he fulfilled his commitment to Creek. He could part ways guilt-free, and while I actually don’t think that Crean did anything wrong in doing so, eliminating the graduate transfer rule would eliminate any possibility of Creek being able to finish his career, earn his graduate degree and, if he can stay healthy, have a chance to prove to professional scouts what he’s still capable of doing.

“They’ve given me a great opportunity,” Creek said, “and I can’t thank them enough.”

Latest Posts
  1. Tulsa lands verbal commitment from South Plains College guard

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:24 PM EDT

    Frank Haith AP

    Pat Birt was a Horizon League All-Freshman Team selection at UIC last season.

  2. Keifer Sykes repeats as Green Bay’s slam dunk champion (VIDEO)

    Oct 25, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT

    sykes AP

    Keifer Sykes is one of the best dunkers in America, and he was at it again Saturday afternoon.

  3. Tom Izzo, Steve Mariucci discuss career possibilities in college ‘flashback’ (VIDEO)

    Oct 25, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    tom izzo

    The intro video to Tom Izzo’s memorable entrance at “Michigan State Madness” Friday night.

  4. Hawaii considering its options regarding NCAA investigation of basketball program

    Oct 25, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

    Gib Arnold AP

    While head coach Gib Arnold released a statement saying that the school had yet to receive a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, the administration is considering the option of self-imposing sanctions.

  5. Transcript controversy leads to two Florida A&M players losing their scholarships

    Oct 25, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT

    Georgia Athletics Georgia Athletics

    Byron Samuels already had a tough rebuilding job in front of him as a result of Florida A&M being hit with a postseason ban for low APR numbers.

  6. Not even Wofford’s coach saw them becoming the Southern Conference’s best program

    Oct 25, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Wofford guard Karl Cochran (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mike Young has seen the Wofford men’s basketball program come a long way since he first joined the coaching staff back in 1989.

  7. Rice lands two commitments in back-to-back days

    Oct 25, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Under Armour Under Armour

    A three-star commit on Friday night, a top-70 pledge on Saturday morning. This has been a big weekend for first-year head coach Mike Rhoades.

  8. Syracuse center has put on 45 pounds, described by NBA scout as ‘chiseled’

    Oct 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Cuse.com Cuse.com

    A story from Syracuse.com says the first-year big man does up to 500 pushups daily.

  9. Wake Forest gets 2016 commitment from assistant coach’s son

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

    AP AP

    This is Danny Manning’s third commitment this month, first in the Class of 2016.

  10. 2014-15 Southern Conference Preview: Wofford, Chattanooga favored in Davidson’s absence

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Wofford guard Karl Cochran (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Davidson is gone, but that does not mean that the SoCon will be a bad basketball league.

  11. Top 10 recruit cuts his list to three schools

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Only three programs remain in contention for the nation’s top rated point guard.

  12. Makinde London juggles three basketballs, dunks two during Xavier dunk contest (VIDEO)

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Makinde London

    Pretty good dunk, but still not better than Chris Mack’s entrance.

  13. Roy Williams says he was ‘dumbfounded’ following Kenneth Wainstein’s report (VIDEO)

    Oct 25, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Roy Williams Getty Images

    The Hall of Fame coach makes his first comments, several days after Kenneth Wainstein released his report.

  14. Tom Izzo performs with KISS cover band on stage at Michigan State’s Midnight Madness (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT

    tom izzo

    Tom Izzo does it again. Add it to the long line of amazing midnight madness entrances.

  15. Chris Mack and his daughters performed ‘Paul Revere’ by the Beastie Boys (PHOTO/VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT

    Instagram/XU Athletics Instagram/XU Athletics

    Chris Mack and his daughters performed ‘Paul Revere’ at Musketeer Madness on Friday night.

  16. Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker injured at practice on Friday

    Oct 24, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Wisconsin forward is likely to miss a week or two

  17. Providence freshman forward, a top 100 recruit, is cleared to play this season

    Oct 24, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ed Cooley Ed Cooley

    Ed Cooley adds a 6-foot-8 forward to the Friars’ front court.

  18. Larry Brown talks about Ben Emelogu’s wavier to play this season (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The former Virginia Tech Hokie will be a big boost to SMU’s perimeter.

  19. Manhattan’s returnees look to build on the achievements of last season’s senior class

    Oct 24, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Emmy Andujar and Shane Richards will be key players for Manhattan. (AP Photo) AP

    Manhattan and head coach Steve Masiello had some issues to address this spring, but thanks in part to their departed senior class the Jaspers are well-positioned to once again contend in the MAAC.

  20. Five-star 2015 power forward down to five schools

    Oct 24, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpti1yzy1ymy3ytizody1zwrhyzfhmme2odcxyjawntbi AP

    One of the nation’s highly-touted bigs is closer to making a decision after eliminating two programs from his list.