Michigan State basketball is officially back after having its first practice earlier this week and everyone, Tom Izzo included, is excited to get started.
But no more excited than Joey Hauser, a transfer from Marquette forced to sit out last season due to the NCAA denying his waiver appeal.
"Well, I'm not as eager as he is," Izzo said. "I mean, I'm eager, but he's really excited. Last night, he called me, and he said, 'hey can we meet.' So we had a little meeting last night at my office, and I said, 'what's wrong?' I thought something was wrong, and he said, 'I'm so excited to get started; it's been a long time for me.'"
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward, is naturally a "quiet kid," to which Izzo responded with "that's not what we do here."
So, getting closer with his teammates and forming the kind of relationships Izzo loves to see from his players was a step in the right direction.
"He's been very good. I think he (Hauser) and Gabe (Brown), and Aaron Henry and Malik (Hall) are starting to form a good bond together and really appreciate each other," said Izzo. That's what I told him he had to work on … he's really improved on that throughout the summer.
"I think this fall he's just done a better job. As he said last night, he's starting to worry more about the relationships he has with his players, teammates in other words, and also with his coaching staff. That part has been exciting for me."
In one season at Marquette, Hauser played in all 34 games while averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game – he also shot 44.7% from the field.
"As a player, boy, he can pass, shoot, dribble, and defend. He can do a lot of things. Probably, what you would be most surprised about – he might be one of the best passers that I've had. Definitely as a big man, the best passer since … maybe that magical guy that was here a long time ago because for his size at 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 he sees the court extremely well and makes solid great passes," Izzo said.
Entering his 26th season as the Spartan head coach, Izzo knew the player Hauser was when he recruited him out of high school.
But now that he's in East Lansing, wearing the green and white – it's only confirmed what Izzo already knew.
The kid can play.
"Joey's been every bit the billing I thought he was … and more," Izzo told reporters on Wednesday. "I just hope he enjoys it as much as I think he's gonna."
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