Redshirt sophomore forward Joey Hauser ran through plays, showed off his smooth jump shot and got a taste of Michigan State basketball Tuesday afternoon during its first practice of the 2019-20 season.
But, he did it all under the uncertainty of whether he will be able to do it in an actual game this year.
Hauser transferred to MSU from Marquette during this past offseason. Michigan State submitted a waiver request to the NCAA to make the 6-foot-9, 220-pounder immediately eligible. Spartan coach Tom Izzo said that he expects a decision to come very soon.
“I think in the next week or two," Izzo said. "Most of them are coming back now. As you can tell I'm not feeling real positive about it. If I was to be perfectly honest about it, I've never really liked it anyway. What I don’t like is the way some do and some don’t."
And just to sweeten Hauser's case a little bit, Izzo has a scenario ready to present to the NCAA.
“I don’t know. We might be able to. I think if we an find out that his great, great, great, great, great-grandfather lived in Pewamo-Westphalia and maybe we can convince people that he’s coming back to visit his gravesite then maybe he will be eligible,” Izzo said.
Hauser enrolled early at Marquette for the spring semester and redshirted after missing the majority of his senior high school season due to ankle surgery.
In his lone season with the Golden Eagles, Hauser averaged almost 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and won Big East freshman of the week five times. Marquette entered the 2018 NCAA Tournament as a 5-seed before getting upset by Ja Morant and the 12th-seeded Murray State in the First Round.
It didn't take long for Hauser to fit right into the mix at Michigan State. Senior guard Cassius Winston said that he was surprised on Hauser's ability to see the floor and pass the ball both out of the post and on the wing.
“He’s an amazing player," Winston said. "He’s smart, strong and physical. He can play inside, outside, stretch the floor. He probably has the prettiest jumper on the team. He’s going to be good for the Spartans. Whether it’s this year or years to come, he’s going to be a really good Spartan.”
Xavier Tillman said Hauser walked into East Lansing with a high-level of confidence in his shooting, something, he says, not many people have when they get to Michigan State.
“I didn’t have any expectations for Joey when he came in," Tillman said. "I didn’t know what he was going to be, but from the first time we had our open gyms you could tell that he was serious, that he had game. He’s tough. It feels like he’s been here this whole time as hard as he plays because I know a lot of people who don’t play as hard as we do, but he played hard from the instant he stepped on the court."
If Hauser becomes immediately eligible, he could slide right into the vacant spot left by Kenny Goins in MSU's starting lineup to solidify a formidable front court with Tillman. But, Izzo isn't very confident in his new piece being at his disposal this season.
“There was a petition sent in as there is for every kid who transfers," Izzo said. "We knew when we got him that was probably a slim chance of him being eligible. We knew that when he transferred. ... We’re still awaiting some decisions on it, but as I’ve said before, I think that is a long shot and I just stick to that until I know for sure.”
So, Izzo may have to do some more digging in Pewamo-Westphalia.