In my job, I do a ton of college basketball interviews. And one of my favorite questions to ask players at the collegiate level is “do you have any NBA role models?” Or “even if you don’t model your game on someone, is there anyone you look up to as a favorite player in the league?” Over the span of 2008-09, the most common answer I received was Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics.
However, during the past 6 months or so, that answer changed to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant.
A major reason is because the former is aging/declining. We’re also seeing his reputation deteriorate as we continue to learn more about his negative personality traits. But on the other side, the latter is nearing his prime and also looking like one of the game’s few good men.
And when you’re the NBA’s leading scorer, you’re bound to inspire legions of acolytes; including Indiana Hoosiers sophomore wing Maurice Creek.
By Paul M. Banks
Creek came out of the gates strong last season, scoring in double digits in his first seven games as a Hoosier. He really opened eyes with a 31 point outburst in a blow-out loss against Kentucky before a season-ending injury to his left knee in 2009-10.
“We’ve known each other for awhile and I talk to him sometimes,” Creek said of Durant. “He’s like my bigger, older brother making sure I’m on the right path and showing me the ropes,” he said at Big Ten Media Day.
Durant really opened a lot of eyes last season with a 30+ ppg average in just his second year in the league. He followed that up with an extremely successful off-season, leading Team USA to Gold in the 2010 FIBA World Championships.
“I congratulated him on that because that’s where I want to be one day- playing for a gold medal representing my country. That’s where he’s already at and that’s where I want to be,” Creek said.
But perhaps the most likable part of Durant’s public persona is his all-business, no frills approach. He’s the Anti-Lebron, or at least the anti-“The Decision” in the way he handled his 5 year contract extension.
“That’s what he’s all about. He wants to do it for the game. Nobody goes harder than him. It wasn’t all about money, Creek stated. “It was about playing with his guys and that’s what he wanted to do,” he continued.
Creek himself is a big-time scorer who can stroke it from deep, but he’s started the year in kind of a shooting slump. He’s shooting just 43% from the field, 36% from distance while averaging only 21 minutes a game. He is however the Hoosiers’ third leading scorer, and regarded to be the member of the team with the highest ceiling.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com
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