Just a few weeks ago, one of the big questions surrounding Indiana University basketball was how the Hoosiers would contend with too many players and not enough scholarship spots.
That’s not a problem for coach Tom Crean anymore.
As of now, the Hoosiers are one scholarship under the 13-scholarship limit after Wednesday’s announcement that Maurice Creek was leaving the program.
Creek has another season of college eligibility, but chose to leave Indiana to seek more playing time. He’ll graduate from IU next week and will try to play elsewhere as a graduate student immediately.
“I feel like I would have a better opportunity for more playing time at another school where I can be eligible right away,” Creek said in a press release announcing his departure.
Creek endured a number of injuries during his time at Indiana. Knee injuries cut short his freshman and sophomore seasons and he sat out the entire 2011-12 season with a ruptured Achilles’.
That was when the Hoosiers returned to prominence after three straight losing seasons under Crean. IU went 27-9, including a memorable victory over No. 1-ranked Kentucky at Assembly Hall before losing to the eventual national champion Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament.
Expectations were high for the Hoosiers this season, with preseason No. 1 rankings in both polls and accolades for Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, and as the season progressed, Victor Oladipo.
But the Hoosiers lost again in the Sweet Sixteen, this time to Syracuse. Watford, Jordan Hulls and Derek Elston graduated, Zeller and Oladipo opted to leave IU early for the NBA and Remy Abell chose to transfer to seek more playing time.
Creek played in a career-high 24 games last season but likely would have lost court time to Indiana’s incoming freshmen. So his comeback from injuries will go on somewhere else.
The Hoosiers could be the youngest team in the Big Ten next season. Of the 12 players currently under scholarship for next season, only senior Will Sheehey and junior Austin Etherington are upperclassmen. The rest of the roster will feature four sophomores and six freshmen.
In the past, Sheehey has spoken about his preference for coming off the bench, so it’s possible the Hoosiers’ starting lineup next season could consist entirely of freshmen and sophomores.
The highlight of Creek’s IU career was a 31-point game against Kentucky on Dec. 12, 2009, his freshman season. But he suffered a season-ending knee injury later that month, then saw his sophomore season end early after breaking his other kneecap.
Creek averaged 7.2 points in 54 games at Indiana.