Dec 8, 2013, 9:57 PM EST
Maurice Creek’s college basketball career was destined to be short-lived.
11 games into his freshman season at Indiana, the 6-foot-4 guard from Oxon Hill, MD, was averaging 17.6 points and shooting 45.3% from three, the star of Tom Crean’s first recruiting class at Indiana that also included Jordy Hulls and Christian Watford.
He was getting noticed by the national media and NCAA scouts alike. Putting up 31 points on Kentucky will do that to you. But that all changed four years ago this month when Creek landed awkwardly on his left leg after getting fouled on a layup attempt in an otherwise-irrelevant blowout win over Bryant. He had fractured his kneecap, the first of a series of three devastating injuries Creek would suffer while in Bloomington.
That college career that was on the fast-track to the NBA had become a four-year battle with his health, as Creek endured three major surgeries that limited him to appearances in just 54 games as a Hoosier.
“I’ve been through a lot,” Creek said. “I don’t even want to look back to what I’ve been through.”
And that is why Creek is one of the best stories of the college basketball season.
Given a fifth-year of eligibility by the NBA and a chance to continue his collegiate career by George Washington as a graduate transfer, Creek, who is finally healthy, has taken full advantage. Entering Sunday’s game with Maryland in the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center in DC, Creek was averaging 15.3 points and shooting 45.7% from three. A much needed dose of perimeter scoring pop, he’s been one of the major reasons that the Colonials were 7-1 on the season with wins over Creighton, Miami and Rutgers.
On Sunday, Creek hit the biggest shot of the season for GW.
After blowing a 14-point lead over the course of the last seven minutes of the game, the Colonials (miraculously) were able to break Maryland’s press and call a timeout at half court with 8.1 seconds left. The game was tied at 75, and after watching his team turn the ball over eight times in the final 4:11, there was no way that Creek was allowing anyone else to get the final shot.
“I just told coach I wanted the ball in my hands,” Creek told NBCSports.com. “He said, ‘Go get the ball.’”
Creek made his coach look like a genius, hitting a step-back 20-footer with 0.6 seconds left to give the Colonials the win, finishing with 25 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field.
And with that, you saw why Mike Lonergan went out of his way to bring Creek into the program.
George Washington has athletes. They have talented, defensive-minded perimeter players. They have big men that can run the floor, that can rebound, that can block shots. What they were missing last season was a guy that could stretch a defense with his ability to shoot the ball. That’s what Creek does best. He also just so happens to be a kid that was once an all-Big Ten caliber player, a veteran that’s been to the Sweet 16 and that has the, ahem, intestinal fortitude to take and make a big shot in a big moment.
Creek was the missing piece, and his addition has been more than GW could have asked for.
“I came to great university, but they wanted me because they needed me,” Creek said.
But it works both ways.
Creek needed GW just as badly as GW needed him.
He needed a chance to play again, a chance to work his way to the top of a rotation and to see the court. Winning is great, and riding the coattails of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo to Big Ten titles certainly has its benefits, but when you’ve experienced being a star, sliding into a role as a deep reserve on the bench in a tough pill to swallow. That’s what made the Buff and Blue a perfect fit. They needed a leader, they needed a star, and Creek needed a place to land.
With the first month of the season now over, it’s safe to say that the union has been a dream come true.
GW is now 8-1 on the year, the latest team to look like they’ll be willing and able to give VCU and UMass a run for their money at the Atlantic 10 title.
Whether or not that ends up happening will play out over the course of the next four months, but the bottom-line is that GW will have a puncher’s chance. They have the ability and they’ll have the opportunity, and for an athlete, is there anything else you can ask for?
“Everybody knows I worked hard to get to this spot,” Creek said. “To go through all that and now have this? Everything’s just clicking together.”
It’s about damn time.
Nov 20, 2014, 6:04 PM EST
More than sixty inches of snow have fallen in western New York this week, so it makes little sense to attempt to play a sporting event as scheduled.
Nov 20, 2014, 4:58 PM EST
Arizona, Michigan State and Providence all reached last season’s NCAA tournament.
Nov 20, 2014, 3:32 PM EST
Who is the most clutch player in the country?
Nov 20, 2014, 2:37 PM EST
The 2014 Maui Invitational kicks off on Monday.
Nov 20, 2014, 1:57 PM EST
I cannot respect your intelligence if you think Kentucky beats Philly. I just can’t do it.
Nov 20, 2014, 1:29 PM EST
The last two years, Wichita State, UConn and Kentucky have all made the Final Four as teams seeded outside the top six.
Nov 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EST
You have to love early morning basketball.
Nov 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Sad: One of the sport’s most notorious coaches is struggling with his health.
Nov 20, 2014, 11:50 AM EST
All of today’s college hoops action.
Nov 20, 2014, 11:05 AM EST
There’s more to Shaka Smart than meets the eye.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:32 AM EST
Will we ever see Butler’s head coach on the sideline again?
Nov 20, 2014, 1:05 AM EST
It was a quiet night on the college hoops front, but one ranked team went down.
Nov 20, 2014, 12:53 AM EST
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was the spark plug for a team that has a lot of progress to make offensively.
Nov 19, 2014, 11:37 PM EST
Jakeenan Gant has yet to play in a game for Missouri.
Nov 19, 2014, 10:42 PM EST
Now that is hops.
Nov 19, 2014, 10:37 PM EST
This is a huge win for Creighton and for the Big East as a whole.
Nov 19, 2014, 9:22 PM EST
Come on, Toby.
Nov 19, 2014, 8:57 PM EST
Apologies won’t get Tom Crean off the hot seat, but at least they acknowledged their mistakes.
Nov 19, 2014, 5:48 PM EST
Derek Ogbeide’s been praised for his ability as a defender and rebounder, areas Georgia will need to address with two of their front court mainstays being seniors.
Nov 19, 2014, 4:33 PM EST
It’s not the same as last night, but there are some good basketball games scheduled for Wednesday.
- Poll: 54 percent of people think Kentucky beats the 76ers, 54 percent of people are dumb 17
- Burning Questions: Who will be this year’s surprise freshman standout? 0
- After getting embarrassed by No. 1 Kentucky, where does No. 5 Kansas go from here? 3
- No. 1 Kentucky’s size, depth overwhelms No. 5 Kansas, makes 40-0 seem possible? 5
- No. 4 Duke proves No. 19 Michigan State cannot win at elite level if they keep missing on elite talent 3
- Wofford’s grueling start to the season began well before their 7:00 a.m. game 0
- No. 13 Gonzaga makes definitive statement with blowout of No. 22 SMU 2
- Poll: 54 percent of people think Kentucky beats the 76ers, 54 percent of people are dumb (17)
- 2014-15 Season Preview: Can the ACC produce four Final Four teams? (6)
- No. 1 Kentucky’s size, depth overwhelms No. 5 Kansas, makes 40-0 seem possible? (5)
- No. 1 Kentucky survives Buffalo despite ugly effort offensively (4)
- Report: Kansas transfer Conner Frankamp considering Colorado, Wichita State (3)