Indiana Basketball: Maurice Creek the X-Factor off the Bench This Season

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIINovember 7, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 01:  Maurice Creek #3 of the Indiana Hoosiers reaches for a rebound during the exhibition game against the Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats at Assembly Hall on November 1, 2012 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

None of us knew what to expect with the return of Maurice Creek. The kid has suffered three leg injuries during his career with the Indiana Hoosiers. What looked like a once promising career which could land him in the NBA is now being salvaged by trying to make a difference in a reserve role off the bench.

Creek is supposed to be a part of the current senior class. Since he has yet to play through an entire season and missed all of last year, he's only a junior as far as eligibility concerns. His role can be the reason why Indiana wins the national title in April.

He was the leading scorer in the nation his freshman season, dropping 31 points against Kentucky, and looked to be the next great player in Indiana's storied history. He was hurt a few weeks later and didn't return to action the rest of the season.

The next year was yet another good one for Creek. He was a prolific scorer and a big reason why Indiana was a year ahead of schedule in their rebuild. Once again, he went down with an ACL injury. This time, he at least made it to the Big 10 season.

Last year, he suffered a leg injury before the season even started, and seemed his playing days at IU were done. Indiana had a great recruiting class coming in, and after three severe leg injuries and rehabs, how well could Creek actually be?

He surprised us all Thursday night as he came in to an emotional standing ovation. Creek not only showed his scoring ability didn't go anywhere, but he led the team in that area. He finished with a team-high 12 points on four of six shooting in only 15 minutes of play. If he can give the team that much production off the bench all year, Indiana will have tons of success.

Think about it, how many teams in the nation can boast such a prolific scorer with experience coming off their bench? Not to mention that he's probably the third or fourth option off the bench as Will Sheehey, Remy Abell, and Jeremy Hollowell are going to be battling with Creek for the wing spots off the bench. There's not one team in the country that has their eighth or ninth man being half as good as Creek.

I could not be happier for such a young man going through what he's been through and making the most of it. He's going to have a big role for this team even though it's off the bench, and that not only gives Indiana big-time depth, but a championship-level talent to match up against any team.