MADISON – A leg injury that kept him out for the start of his junior basketball season made Stevens Point forward Joey Hauser focus more on rehabilitation that his recruiting or taking unofficial visits to basketball games.
But with his leg healed and a break in the practice schedule, the five-star 2018 forward was anxious to take in Wisconsin basketball’s 71-60 home win over then-No.23 Maryland Sunday afternoon.
“It was really fun to go to the Wisconsin game,” Hauser told BadgerNation. “It was the first college game I’ve been to, besides a Marquette game, and it was fun to check out a different team. It was really a great atmosphere down at Wisconsin. I always enjoy going to the Kohl Center. I like playing at the Kohl Center, too, but there is always a buzz down in Madison on game day, especially with the weather outside. It really was an awesome day.”
Hauser has been one of Wisconsin’s top recruiting targets – regardless of class – for the last couple years, but has seen that interest intensify, and become a little more humanized, after Greg Gard was promoted to head coach last March.
“I got offered by Bo Ryan, but the recruiting has been a little different,” Hauser said. “I think the staff they have now makes you feel comfortable and be there for you and help you with anything if you have a question with something. Obviously they’re having lots of success doing it and they have really good recruits coming in next year that will help them. They’re doing it right.
“You watch them on the court, Coach Gard is not afraid to get after his players. I like that kind of stuff. He lets you know what he wants and how he wants it done. They are a really good coaching staff, and they are only going to get better.”
While reported elsewhere that he has trimmed down his list, Hauser maintains he’s wide open on the recruiting front. He holds offers from Iowa, Marquette, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Virginia, to name a few.
“Some people have made some assumptions (of my favorites), but I haven’t told anyone that I have a group of schools cut down because I really don’t,” Hauser said. “If I find a school that’s a really good fit for me, maybe I’ll make a decision early, but right now it seems like I can’t even choose what schools I like. It’s really difficult.”
Hauser has a perfect record at the Kohl Center, being a role player on Stevens Point’s back-to-back state championship teams, but has taken on a much larger role this season with the graduation of older brother Sam Hauser (Marquette) and Trevor Anderson (Green Bay).
Since returning to the lineup, Hauser has averaged 23.5 points per game and helped his team get to 17-4 overall with the playoffs just around the corner.
“First couple of games back was a little difficult trying to figure out how to play with each other, but I think me not playing early on is really going to help these other guys calm down later on in the postseason,” Hauser said. “Some of those guys have a lot of confidence and that’s really going to help us in the long run. Right now we’re just trying to bring that energy every day in practice and in games.”
One of those good early tests for Hauser was playing Wisconsin 2017 guard commit Kobe King and his La Crosse Central teammates in La Crosse. With Gard and associate head coach Lamont Paris taking a charter flight to watch the two play, Hauser finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a 92-76 victory for King on Feb.7.
“They are a really good team, and Kobe is a really good player, especially at the high school level,” Hauser said. “He’s really dominant. They are probably favored to win state for division 2 this year. That was a good test. We didn’t play the way we wanted to early. The second half was played a little better. Coming down to March we have to tighten up some things to really try to make a run at it and get back to Madison.”
In addition to his offer list, Hauser said Butler, Gonzaga, Indiana, Notre Dame and Oklahoma are some of the schools that have been recruiting him hard. He added he’s also had some contact with Duke, Kansas and UCLA