Hauser brothers transferring from Marquette
In a surprising turn of events that crashes sky-high expectations for Marquette men's basketball next season, the Golden Eagles announced Monday that brothers Sam and Joey Hauser will transfer at the end of the semester.
Sam, a 6-foot-8 junior, was a second-team all-Big East selection and averaged 14.9 points per game while shooting 40.2% on three-pointers. He will not be a graduate transfer, so he will sit one season and then be eligible for one at his next school.
Joey, a 6-9 redshirt freshman, averaged 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 42.5% on threes. He will sit next season as a transfer and then will be able to play two more unless he can get a medical waiver for his redshirt season and be able to play another one.
Both were expected to be key players next season for an MU team many thought would be among the best in the nation. Markus Howard, the Big East player of the year and a second-team All-American guard, announced Friday that he was returning to MU for his senior season.
"We appreciate everything they've done for our program," MU coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "They certainly had a lot of great moments.
"But our focus now turns to what we have, the team we have and how we get them to be very good. And we can do that. That's where our focus has to lie now."
Sam Hauser and Howard were selected as co-MVPs of last season at the team's awards banquet Thursday.
According to a source, the Hauser brothers were home in Stevens Point over the weekend. They settled on a decision to change schools for a better basketball fit.
"Marquette will always have a special place in my heart," Sam said in a statement. "But moving forward in my basketball career, I have made the decision to transfer."
The Hauser brothers are expected to transfer to the same school. Wisconsin, Virginia and Michigan State are schools that reportedly have early interest.
The brothers played together at Stevens Point Area Senior High School, leading the Panthers to two WIAA state championships together.
Wojciechowski made recruiting the brothers a high priority after getting the job at MU in 2014.
"I saw Sam, who at that time was a sophomore. Joey was just trailing him around," Wojciechowski said when Joey signed his letter of intent in November 2017. "Right away I said, 'I really want to coach that kid Sam Hauser. I saw Joey play and said, 'I'm really going to want to coach that kid Joey Hauser, too.' "
Wojciechowski has landed several high-profile recruits from the state in his five seasons at MU. But Rice Lake's Henry Ellenson bolted to the NBA after one season with the Golden Eagles, and the Hausers are leaving after playing just one season together at MU.
Sam made an immediate impact as a freshman in the 2016-17 season, starting 28 games and averaging 8.8 points. As a sophomore, he started all 35 games despite a nagging hip injury.
Sam had surgery on his hip last offseason and rehabbed for the entire summer. He didn't miss a beat his junior season, becoming a player whom Wojciechowski constantly lauded as one of the "most underrated players in the country."
Joey was a big recruit for MU, with Wojciechowski holding off a strong push from Wisconsin.
When ankle and foot injuries ended his senior season after only one game at SPASH, he enrolled early at MU in January so he could rehab. That counted as a redshirt season.
But Joey had a strong freshman season, making 31 starts. On Jan. 21, the Hauser brothers swept the Big East weekly awards, with Sam player of the week and Joey freshman of the week. It was the first time brothers accomplished that.
The Golden Eagles were in position to claim the Big East title but fell apart down the stretch. They lost six of their last seven games, including getting blown out by Murray State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
With Howard's return and the versatility of the Hauser brothers, most early offseason polls put the Golden Eagles in the top 10. ESPN even had MU at No. 2.
The Golden Eagles were slated to have their top seven scorers return next season. The Hauser brothers were second and third behind Howard's 25 points per game.
The Golden Eagles lose the spacing provided by the Hausers' shooting abilities. But MU also welcomes more athleticism with guards Greg Elliott, who redshirted his sophomore season with a thumb injury, and Koby McEwen, who sat out last season as a transfer from Utah State and will have two seasons of eligibility.
MU already had one open scholarship slot for next season. The departure of the Hausers opens up two more.
Wojciechowski will look at both traditional transfers and graduate transfers who could play immediately. There is a strong possibility that guard Symir Torrence, an MU recruit in the 2020 class, will reclassify so he can join the team next season.
"I think all the options are on the table," Wojciechowski said. "First and foremost, I feel great about the guys coming back. I think we can be really good.
"But obviously losing two guys who played prominent roles, there may be people out there that can help us be even better. We have to explore all those options."
Next season will be critical for Wojciechowski, who is under contract through 2022. The MU fan base is very eager for success in March. The Golden Eagles are 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament during Wojciechowski's five seasons.
Wojciechowski also will be under pressure to land a strong recruiting class, with Howard, Sacar Anim and Ed Morrow as seniors next season.
"I view every year as a crucial one for our program," Wojciechowski said. "I think we can be really good.
"What other people say, that shouldn't matter. What we need to do is get to work and get better."