Intriguing NCAA Transfers: Sam Hauser

From “one-and-done” prospects to the record-low number of seniors in the NBA draft, basketball has increasingly become fixated on youth. However, while they may not be flashy five-star recruits, college basketball transfers have consistently proven that they can play important roles on contending NCAA teams. One player who could fit this mold is Virginia forward Sam Hauser.

Sam Hauser Breakdown

Offense

If Sam Hauser entered the draft this year, I would have taken him in the lottery. This might be an unpopular sentiment, but I truly think that he’s the greatest pure shooting prospect ever. For one, his shooting numbers are absolutely insane. In his junior season at Marquette, he had a 57.6 effective field goal percentage, a true shooting percentage of 61.1, and a free throw percentage of 92.4. Furthermore, he had an adjusted offensive rating (PORPAGATU!) of 4.6, took 10.9 threes per 100 possessions, and drained 88 threes at a 42.6% clip. The only prospects who have come close to these numbers in the last decade are Davide Moretti, Fletcher Magee, and Markus Howard. In other words, three of the decade’s best pure shooting prospects.

While coach Tony Bennett is known for his defensive intensity, Bennett was actually quite the sharpshooter back with the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay. To this day, Bennett holds the record for highest college basketball three-point percentage. Bennett is uniquely knowledgeable about how to best utilize Hauser, and I expect to see some creative offense plays.

Defense

One of the biggest concerns with most shooting prospects is that they are defensive liabilities. However, Sam Hauser is a quality defender who can play high IQ, smart defense both on-ball and off-ball. Additionally, Hauser became a solid defender during his junior season at Marquette. While he admittedly has limited athleticism, he was still able to hold a 93.7 defensive rating and an exceptional 19.5 defensive rebounding percentage, numbers that have never been reached by any shooting prospect. Even if we reduce the range to players with 70 made threes, true shooting percentage above 61, free throw percentage above 0.890, defensive rating below 94, and a defensive rebounding percentage over 9, there’s still only two players left: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson.

It’s rare to find a shooting prospect that is also a good defender, yet Hauser fits that bill. Throw in his minuscule 11.7 turnover percentage for good measure, and it’s clear that Hauser is in another tier as a shooting prospect. Anytime you’re in the same conversation as perhaps the two best shooters in the NBA, it’s a good thing. Expect Hauser to fit right in and perhaps even improve his skills under the tutelage of defensively-minded Coach Bennett. For Hauser to take the next step, it’s crucial for him to become an even better defender.

Intangibles

While Hauser is a solid defender and an elite shooter, he also possesses some compelling intangibles. He has great size at 6’8 and 225 pounds, so his high release is especially difficult to guard. For context, Moretti is 6’2, Magee is 6’4, and Howard is 5’11. This “size advantage” is exactly why Duncan Robinson is so hard to guard. He has an insanely quick release, forcing defenses to perpetually shadow him closely. By drawing in defenders, Robinson stretches and disrupts offenses, creating even more space for his teammates.

For many years, Virginia used the “blocker mover” offense, which two forward/center “blockers” who set screens and get easy points in the paint, as well as three “movers” who can shoot from deep and attack the rim. However, this offense became stagnant, and it was especially exposed in the Cavaliers’ stunning loss to sixteen seed UMBC. Last year, they transitioned to more of a “flow motion” offense, where any of the players can drive or shoot. It consists of a variety of ball-screens, and there are just fewer motionless players on offense overall. This offense is especially conducive to Hauser, as there are more opportunities for spacing and creating offensive mismatches. With his size advantage and shooting ability, Hauser could do really well in the new Bennett offense.

Takeaway

The only other “wing” shooters in the last decade who somewhat match Sam Hauser’s combination of shooting efficiency, height, and adequate defense are none other than Miami Heat sharpshooters Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro. Perhaps Hauser could join the duo in Miami after the 2021 NBA Draft. However, one major difference between these players is that neither Robinson nor Herro was burdened with many expectations.

For instance, Herro came in as the fifth-ranked freshman on his own team, and Robinson was a spot-up shooter for the entirety of his Michigan tenure. However, Hauser will come in as the de-facto leader of this Cavaliers team. Hauser is certainly a spectacular shooter, but what about when he’s the focus of the defense? Expectations are high, as Hauser is receiving consideration for major awards like the Naismith Trophy. It’ll be interesting to see how Hauser reacts to the pressure, especially in the high-stakes NCAA tournament.

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Images