UVA’s Sam Hauser ready to step up as team leader

Sam HauserSam Hauser is a shooter. The rising redshirt senior UVA hoopster is also a piano player, or at least he used to be.

And he’s trying to pick it back up.

You know, with all of his suddenly free time.

When he’s not playing golf on the nine-hole course that he and his brother, Joey, built in the backyard of their parents’ Wisconsin home, that is.

“Little things like that to keep us going,” said Hauser, who sat out this season as a transfer from Marquette, where he averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, shooting 45.9 percent from the floor, 40.2 percent from three-point range and 92.4 percent from the free-throw line in his junior season in 2018-2019.

Hauser spent the 2019-2020 season anchoring the scout team at Virginia, earning the undying praise of his teammates for his elite shooting skills, usually displayed at the expense of fellow bigs Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key, who have been effusive in their praise of the 6’8” Hauser, throwing out talk of him being a preseason favorite for ACC Player of the Year in 2020-2021 and a candidate for All-America status.

“You know, expectations are a privilege,” Hauser said. “I’m not saying I have to live up to any expectations, because I have my own expectations for myself. I’m just looking forward going in and taking each day as its own entity and then taking it one game at a time, not really looking past or looking behind.”

The shooting, we knew about it when Hauser signed on. What we still don’t know much about is what Hauser can do on the defensive end in Tony Bennett’s Pack-Line.

“I feel like I’ve gotten the hang of it a little bit,” Hauser said. “Obviously being on the scout team, you don’t get much reps on the defensive end, playing our defense. So, obviously, there will still be a little bit learning for me to do.

“I think defensive confidence and skill one to 10, I’d probably say like seven. Obviously, defense can always use improvement, and that’s an area that I would love to improve in.”

Hauser and Jay Huff, who will also be a redshirt senior on the 2020-2021 team, will be the old guys on a deep, but young, roster, with the 12 guys fighting for rotation minutes including one other senior (Tomas Woldetensae), two juniors (Kihei Clark, Kody Stattmann), three sophomores (Francisco Caffaro, Justin McKoy, Casey Morsell) and four freshmen (Kadin Shedrick, Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Reece Beekman, Carson McCorkle).

After a year of apprenticing on the scout team, Hauser is ready to step up as a team leader.

“I think experience always helps in college basketball, and obviously I can bring a lot to the table on that aspect,” Hauser said. “At Marquette, you know, I was looked at as a leader and captain, so I have that experience of being that. And I think I can bring a lot to the table in terms of this coming year. And I think this year, I think it was just good for me to really just compete and practice and lead that way. Really lead by example. I think next year, I have to be more vocal.”

The challenge is building toward a new season with nothing in terms of the normal support system in place.

Hauser, for his part, is taking the positive mental approach to where things stand in the here and now.

“It’s good for some guys to just take a step away from the game for a few weeks and recuperate,” he said. “It’s also a good time for guys to just kind of work on their game individually, and I think if everyone is doing their part, then when we come back together and can play as a team, it’s going to show. But obviously, it’s just a weird time, and the main thing is everyone stay safe.”

Story by Chris Graham

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