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Maurice Creek: Stuck in a Foreign Land Under Invasion

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If you do not know the story about Maurice Creek, it is one of resilience and a never-quit attitude wrapped in a very caring and giving person. Mo is a great friend of Indiana Sports Beat Radio, and we stay in touch. I was able to talk to him from his apartment on the phone today.

Like most outstanding college basketball players who do not hear their name called by Adam Silver at the NBA Draft, Maurice Creek has traversed the myriad of channels of basketball leagues that crisscross the world and has become a popular fixture in The Basketball Tournament (TBT).

Maurice, or "Mo," as most people affectionately refer to him, has always been able to adapt to change quickly, allowing him to continue chasing his passion of playing basketball, supporting his family and travel the world.

Like many former players I am in contact with, I have enjoyed watching Mo in TBT and encouraged him to form an IU Alumni team. But, Creek's focus has now shifted to something much, much bigger than basketball.

From South Kent Prep School to Oxon Hill HS and Hargrave Military, Maurice quickly adapted to new places and new people. He played three seasons at Indiana for Tom Crean, but we never got to see what could have been. He started the first 12 games of the 2009-2010 season as a freshman, Tom Crean's 2nd year into a catastrophic rebuild at Indiana.

That 9th game was against John Calipari's first University of Kentucky team, which included future NBA veterans John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, would go 35-3 and make the NCAA Elite Eight. Creek would hang 31 points on the Wildcats, but the Hoosiers would lose 90-73.

After the loss to Kentucky, Creek averaged over 17 points per game and was the leading scoring freshman in the country.

Three games later, the Hoosiers would lose Maurice Creek to the first of 3 major injuries in 22 months. His once-promising college career at Indiana had been derailed by injury as Tom Crean was trying to get Indiana back from the debacle.

In 2009 in talking about Maurice Creek, Tom Crean told Inside The Hall that "It is really hard to put into context what has happened with him. But the one thing that I can put into context is that he is one tough young man. He embodies the spirit that we want this program to be about. When you look at a situation where, not only has he had one major injury and surgery, not only has he had two major injuries and surgeries, but he has now had three in less than 22 months."

He would need that toughness.

Nothing stopped Maurice, however. He would transfer to George Washington for his final year, average over 14 points a game, and then look toward his future. Undrafted by the NBA, he searched for many opportunities and would play in The Netherlands, Denmark, Copenhagen, Finland, Kyiv (Ukraine), Israel, and since 2019 in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. The place where he is right now.

The place that is being invaded by Putin's Russian forces. Not only is he still stranded there, but he is also the only player remaining from the Ukrainian League he was playing in. Why?

We all want to know why? Well, Maurice would like to know that answer too. He was always told "we'll take care of you" and "everything will be fine" by his Prometey Slobozhanske team officials.

"I always send most of my money back home for my family," Maurice told me yesterday. "They (Prometey Slobozhanske) still owe me money and have held it back because I wanted to leave, and they wanted me to stay here."

In a strong-arm attempt to keep Creek from leaving, the team also threatened to hold his "Letter of Clearance," a license to play basketball in Europe. The unscrupulous methods had gotten bad enough that Maurice's mother has filed a lawsuit against the Federation he plays under.

Today former Indiana coach Tom Crean told me that, "Maurice loves basketball at such a high level, and I've seen him come out on top of some very difficult games. This though, is gut wrenching. The safe haven of a gym cannot protect him right now. I am praying for his ability to be able to be safe and get out of harms way."

But, now those actions by the team have left Maurice Creek in a life and death situation because he is sranded in Ukraine, the airports are all closed, and there is no commercial transportation out of the country. I mentioned to him that groups like "Project Dynamo' (please go to their site and donate if you can) are trying to rescue Americans from Ukraine.

"Well, that's nice, but, Prometey Slobozhanske is responsible for me and for getting me out so, I'm at their mercy, really," Creek said.

So what is the plan? They were planning to try and drive by car the four hours South to Moldova Saturday. But, Mo said the sirens went off, and they had to cancel the attempt. Hopefully, there will be another attempt today.

"Man, I just want to be out of here, for real. I am doing ok, but, I can hear the bombs hit in the distance. I'm not going to lie, I'm scared," Creek said.

I can only imagine.

He knows that every Indiana fan is pulling for him and all of his other fans. His family is in a living hell.

"Man, this is really hard on them; they are going crazy."

He tries to stay calm, as is his disposition off the court. He can only hope that he will be heading to Moldova sometime soon.

We here at TheHoosier.com will keep you updated on his situation as new information comes in.

** I spoke with Maurice again today and he is still in Ukraine with the hope of trying to get out Monday.

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