Michigan State recently suffered some problematic news when Xavier Tillman announced he was staying in the 2020 NBA Draft. The loss of Tillman, mixed with both Illinois and Iowa finding out their stars were returning this season, have seemingly knocked the Spartans out of the Big Ten favorite for 2020-21. And while Tom Izzo is working on an absolutely loaded class for 2022 (or maybe next year, depending on if Boakye and Bates reclassify to 2021) he’ll need to fill the hole left by Tillman next season.
Enter Joey Hauser.
Hauser announced he was transferring to Michigan State just before the summer in 2019 but wasn’t granted eligibility by the NCAA, forcing the forward to sit out this past season. In his freshman season at Marquette Hauser averaged 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while also shooting 42.5% from the three. Hauser was expected to add even more depth to a loaded Sparty squad this past fall, but now he could very well find himself in a starting role this season.
Most early projections have Hauser penciled in at the four spot and without a proven inside scorer, Hauser will be relied on heavily to provide some firepower in the frontcourt. Of course it should also be noted that Hauser has proven to be a capable perimeter shooter, bringing some additional three point shooting to the equation as well. Tillman occasionally shot from outside, hitting 26% of this three pointers on 1.6 attempts per game, but Hauser should provide a considerable improvement from outside.
Tom Izzo recently spent some time glowing about Hauser to Spartan Nation.
“So, what has he done in the season he was out? He has worked on his ball handling, he has improved that. He has worked on his defense and now he has to become a perimeter defender where he can guard both inside and outside,” Izzo said. “Redshirt years, even though they are painful to go through, when you do go through them, if you are a driven guy you can get a lot out of them.”
Michigan State might have more competition this winter in the Big Ten but Izzo brings enough talent to the table that the Spartans should once again be a contender for the Big Ten title.