Michigan State’s Joey Hauser took time to reflect and look at his options after the Spartans’ 2021-22 season ended at the hands of Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament this past March.
It didn’t take him long to decide on a return to East Lansing for another go-around with Tom Izzo at Michigan State.
“I’m really excited about it,” Hauser told Big Ten Network’s Andy Katz in a recent interview. “It’s not like I’m using my extra year of COVID. I sat out a year, so this is going to be my fourth year of eligibility within five years of college basketball. So, I’m just really excited about the opportunity to step up more into a leadership role. That’s part of the reason I wanted to go back.”
Hauser had some his moments this past season for the Spartans, none brighter than his 27-point, 8-rebound effort to lead Michigan State to a victory over Davidson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The senior also shot the ball better from three-point range and the foul line last year.
What does that mean heading into the 2022-23 season?
“I think it just kind of reminded me what I’m capable of,” Hauser said. “Confidence has been a huge part of my game these past couple years and just being confident in my abilities on the court. So, I had a couple games at the end that kind of reminded me what I can do, and I thought that was something I could carry into next year and do on a consistent basis.”
One thing that’s been consistent is head coach Tom Izzo’s support of Hauser, even through what was a difficult and disappointing first season for Hauser at Michigan State in 2020-21.
“Coach is always telling me to shoot more, to just play my game,” Hauser said. “I’ve struggled a little bit with playing my game within, obviously, playing our system as well … Coach Izzo has always stuck by me, and I’ve stuck by him, and that’s why I really wanted to go back.”
Hauser and Izzo have discussed an increased role for the fifth-year senior for the upcoming season.
“He kind of laid it out, how he sees next year kind of happening and I just thought it was going to be a great opportunity for me to do what I kind of envisioned myself to do in my college career,” Hauser told Katz.
“Obviously, I’m going to be one of the oldest guys on the team, so kind of being more of a leader on the team. Obviously, I want to play a lot. He can’t guarantee me minutes but, right now, we don’t have a ton of guys on our roster so my minutes will probably go up by default.”
The conversation then turned to Michigan State’s roster for 2022-23, which isn’t settled yet due to Max Christie’s flirtation with the NBA and other potential additions that could be made in East Lansing via the transfer portal.
“For what we’ve got, I really like the group of guys we have. I know Coach Izzo really does,” Hauser said. I think me and Malik [Hall] can play a lot of positions. AJ Hoggard is, obviously, a bigger point guard. Tyson Walker, he’s one of the quicker guys I’ve ever played with. So, those two kind of manning the point position really helps us, and then I think you’re going to see guys like Jaden Akins and Pierre Brooks step up and have a bigger role than they had last season.”
Hauser noted the versatility that the Spartans will have with their lineup next year, which will include the additions of freshman guard Tre Holloman and freshman big Jaxon Kohler, who could see a lot of early playing time with the departure of Julius Marble.
“We might be a little undersized right now. We have a freshman – a four or five man – coming in, Jaxon Kohler, who’s going to add a little more size,” Hauser said.
For obvious reasons, getting Christie back after he goes through the pre-draft process would provide a big boost for the Spartans. Christie has until June 1 to make a final decision about returning to East Lansing or staying in the draft.
“With Max, we don’t really know what’s going to happen yet,” Hauser said. “But with the guys we have right now, I really like our roster.”
Hauser's full interview with Katz can be viewed here.