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An Ode to Wop

Lest we soon forget.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

There will never be another like him. Irreplaceable and unforgettable, the kid from Philly made you believe in something bigger. He made you believe in lofty goals, high expectations, and the belief of a community where what was once a pipe dream became a realistic outcome.

He was a wizard, a superhero, something out of a comic book that you couldn’t quite explain. He was joy incarnate, an individual that turned up your heart rate and forced you to shake your head and smile.

He was a celebrity, a hero, a role model to the kids that bounce around at the CenturyLink Center and clamor for a photo with him. A social media darling that’d send nothing but positive vibes into the ether.

He was electric, a beaming shot of energy, a player who moved so fast with such intensity that if you took your eyes off of him for a second you’d miss a moment of greatness. A lightning bolt with the deftness and grace of a ballerina.

He was selfless, confident, and proud of all who surrounded him, rarely losing patience while being a spout of positive feedback and optimism. A positive vibration that coursed through teammates, coaches, friends, family, fans, even the media.

He was a leader of young men, sharing every bit of information he’d gathered on the road to his pinnacle, realizing that every moment was to be seized and stored for later use. A brilliant basketball mind with an open and gregarious personality. Never one to get down on a teammate for making a mistake but holding an understanding of what motivates them to be better.

He was fearless, defiant, and loyally outspoken. A warrior for his team and never one to back down from a fight, regardless of the size and breadth of his opponent. He was a true to life example of, “It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.”

He was a coach’s dream, a sponge for knowledge, a player with the confidence to demonstrate his skillset regardless of who was watching. There was no stage too big for him, no drill too difficult, no amount of fatigue to keep him down.

He was a conversation topic, a beacon of legendary sports gossip, a name that carried with it the phrases of, “did you see that?” “can you believe he made that?” “how does he do it?” An athlete that had to be talked about, an athlete that couldn’t help but be brought up in offices and warehouses from the Missouri River to the shores of Rhode Island.

He was, is, and forever will be a legend within the city that embraced him so warmly through the harsh winter months. There will come a time, years from now, after he’s built a family, a career, a life after Creighton, where he’ll return to Omaha and be showered with unflinching adoration, a throng of fans who won’t soon forget the impact ‘Wop’ had on the college basketball world.

However this season plays out, whatever the future may bring, there will be 17,000 people, from November to March, in an arena in downtown Omaha, who will have the name ‘Maurice Watson Jr.’ fresh in their memories from now until our generation passes.

Cheers, to one fucking amazing career, to one incredible individual.

Thanks for the all the assists.