Maurice Creek just can't seem to catch a break.
For the third straight year, Creek has suffered a season ending injury—this year before his season ever began.
Once viewed as a sure-fire NBA prospect after scoring 31 points against Kentucky during his freshman season, Creek will likely never be physically healthy enough to play at the next level.
Creek told the media today that he simply fell down the stairs in his apartment which led to a torn left Achilles tendon. This latest injury follows a fractured left kneecap in late 2009 and a right knee stress fracture in early 2011.
Early projections indicate Creek will be fully recovered by early April of 2012.
With Creek once again on the shelf, let's take a look at five players who must step up in his absence.
At 6'5" and 214 lbs, Victor Oladipo is one of the most explosive athletes in the country and is nearly everyone's pick for breakout player of the year as a sophomore in 2011-12.
As a freshman, in the 13 games where Oladipo played at least 20 minutes, he averaged 11.2 points per contest.
Oladipo should see about 30 minutes per game this season as a result of the injury to Creek and should be counted on for at least 15 points (and a few ridiculous dunks).
Another sophomore, at 6'6" and 200 lbs, Will Sheehey is an extremely athletic small forward evidenced by some of the best dunks in all of college basketball last season.
Sheehey's size and athleticism allow him to get out in transition and finish around the basket, creating numerous opportunities for a team in desperate need of easy offense.
He'll need to shoot a higher percentage from three point land this season (.304 as a freshman) to help prevent opposing defenders from playing too far off him when he catches the ball in a half-court setting.
Sheehey will see a significant increase in minutes this season as a result of the Creek injury and will be counted on to produce from the get-go.
Another 6'5" shooting guard, Verdell Jones III has been an up-and-down player for the Hoosiers over the past three seasons, mostly due to his ability to score with the ball and his inability to take care of it.
Jones scored in double figures in 13 of the 15 Big Ten games he appeared in last season and significantly improved his assist to turnover ratio as the season went on.
He had 48 turnovers to 41 assists during the Hoosier's non-conference portion of the schedule and 35 turnovers to 48 assists during the Big Ten season.
As long as Jones is not asked to handle the point guard duties next year and plays within himself by not forcing things, he should be in for a solid senior season.
Who? Remy Abell is a 6'3", 195 lb freshman combo guard from Kentucky—a late commitment after receiving his release from Bradley University.
Abell is a strong player who can guard three positions and will be counted on to score from inside and out next year to help make up for the loss of Creek.
If Abell emerges as a true scoring threat next season, the Hoosiers should find themselves squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Jordan Hulls emerged as a team leader last season and will be counted on by head coach Tom Crean even more heavily in 2011-12.
Hulls was the Hoosiers most efficient player in 2010 and averaged 11 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field, 41 percent from three, and 91 percent from the free throw line.
The biggest issue with Hulls remains his inability to create his own shot, which led to just eight shot attempts per game last season—far too few for a player who shoots such a high percentage.
If the Hoosiers have any plans of making the NCAA Tournament next season, Hulls will need to take at least 12 shots per game.