Joey Hauser returns for back-to-back State Champion SPASH
After missing the first 11 games of this season due to an
injury, 6-8 All-State junior forward Joey Hauser made his return for the
Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) boys basketball team last week.
One of the top high school basketball recruits in the country
from the Class of 2018, Hauser was out with an ankle injury suffered during the
SPASH football team’s run to the WIAA Division 1 State Semifinals, and watched
from the bench as the Panthers got off to a 10-1 start this season.
He was back for third-ranked SPASH’s 70-61 victory at home over
Wausau West Friday, Jan. 20, and will look to help the Panthers contend for a
third consecutive WIAA Division 1 State Title this season.
“It’s been a lot more difficult than I thought it would be,”
said Hauser. “With coming off an injury, you’re out of shape and things just
aren’t the way you kind of want it to be, shots aren’t going in.
“But I’ve just got to kind of play within myself and let the
game come to me,” he said. “And this team’s really helping me out, too.”
“At one point we didn’t know for sure what it was going to
be, or how long it was going to be,” said SPASH boys basketball head coach
Scott Anderson. “I always felt like at some point he was going to be back, but
we just didn’t have a date, and we just didn’t concern ourselves a ton with it.
“We let him heal up and get better, and people aren’t
waiting around for you, we still had the schedule that we had to play, and our
guys worked really hard and we worked hard at becoming who we could be with
that team without him,” he said. “And now we’re happy to have him back and
(senior guard) Spencer (Tyson) back, and we’re just trying to learn how to
integrate those guys into what we were doing.”
The 13th-ranked high school basketball recruit nationally in
the Class of 2018 by Scout.com and 36th in the ESPN Class of 2018 Top 80
rankings, Hauser started as a freshman on SPASH’s 2015 WIAA Division 1 State
Championship team that finished 27-1.
Last season he averaged 17.6 points, 7.7 rebounds 3.4
assists per game as a sophomore to help the Panthers go 28-0 and win their
second consecutive WIAA Division 1 State Title, as he was named a Wisconsin
Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division 1 All-State selection.
In football, the 6-8, 215-pound Hauser was a standout wide
receiver as a junior this fall and was named Second Team All-Valley Football
Association Southern Division after he led the fifth-ranked Panthers with 34
and eight touchdowns.
He finished with eight catches for
SPASH’s only touchdown in a 28-7 loss to top-ranked and eventual State Champion
Kimberly in the Division 1 State Semifinals Nov. 11, but aggravated an ankle
injury during the team’s postseason run that came up a win short of advancing
to the State Championship Game.
“Friday Night Lights are one of the experiences that you’ve
got to have,” said Hauser of playing football. “I love playing receiver, and
unfortunately I got hurt.
“People say, ‘why are you playing football?’” he said. “I’m
not out there trying not to get hurt, I’m out there to play. It just happened,
and it will make me a better player and person.”
After practicing before the start of the season, Hauser was
held out of the lineup when SPASH boys basketball team had its opener Nov. 25, as
the Panthers had five new starters in their lineup from their back-to-back
State Championship teams.
Led by junior guard Drew Blair (22.1 points, 4.7 rebounds
per game), senior guard Beau Rosenthal (15 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists)
and senior forward Keon’te Williams (8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists),
SPASH won 10 of its first 11 games without Hauser, with its only loss a 66-54 defeat
at sixth-ranked Bay Port (9-2) Dec. 10, while it has been ranked among the top
four teams in Division
the WisSports.net Coaches Poll all season.
“They played really well, but it was hard not being out
there with them,” said Hauser. “But going 10-1, it was fun to watch.”
From early in the season, with college basketball
scholarship offers from several NCAA Division 1 schools including Marquette, Wisconsin,
Michigan State, Virginia, Iowa State, Iowa
and Purdue, it was uncertain when or if Hauser would play basketball as a
junior due to the ankle injury.
“I didn’t really know, depending on how much better my ankle
was getting,” said Hauser. “And at a point it just wasn’t getting better.
“I got some injections in my ankle that really helped out
the healing process, and that really helped me a lot,” he said. “It just gave
me an extra little boost of confidence, and it just felt really good.”
“The first couple of weeks (of practice) he would try to go
a little bit and then eventually. I think after the second week, we just shut
it down,” said Anderson.
“We knew what we were dealing with and that he was going to be out for a while,
so we just said, ‘hey, this is who we are and what we have, and we’re going to
figure out how to be a good team without him. And then when we comes back,
we’ll figure out how to be even a better team.’
“That’s the way we looked at it, and we had kids step up and
guys have played really well in his absence, and 10-1 without him, I don’t
think too many people would’ve thought that,” he said. “But our guys have done
a great job, and now we’ve got him back, and we’ve got to kind of figure out
how to play with him and how to make this even a better team.”
Hauser made his season debut against Wausau West Friday,
Jan. 20, where he finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three
steals and two blocks in a 70-61 victory.
He followed with 29 points and five assists in a 71-60
victory over Marshfield at home Tuesday, Jan. 24, where he helped the Panthers
win their 45th consecutive Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) game.
“Right now we’ve just got to figure out kind of how to play
with each other,” said Hauser. “But I think we’re going to just keep improving
and we’re going to be at our best come the end of the year.”
“He’s rusty right now,” said Anderson. “He’s making mistakes that I don’t
think in a month from now he’ll make, because he hasn’t done this stuff at a
pace and at a level and at the intensity that’s he had to do it here in the
“He hasn’t done that for about two or three months, so he’s
a work in progress yet,” he said.
Hauser changed his jersey number this season from 24 to 10,
which his older brother Sam wore for SPASH the previous four seasons and
continues to wear as a freshman for the Marquette University men’s basketball
team, where he is averaging nine points and five rebounds per game as starter and
grabbed the final rebound to seal Marquette’s 74-72 win over top-ranked and
defending NCAA Division 1 National Champion Villanova Tuesday night, which
ended just minutes after SPASH’s win over Marshfield.
“It’s in honor of my brother, he’s my favorite player and I
just felt like wearing No.
said Hauser. “It’s been really fun to watch, just the way he’s developed as a
“He’s really played well, and they just got a big win versus
Villanova,” he said.
After missing the first half of the regular season, and with
nine games left before the start of the WIAA Division 1 Playoffs, Hauser is
looking forward to fitting in with his teammates and helping SPASH make a run
for another State Title.
“We’ve just got to become a better defensive team,” said
Hauser. “The past four years, that’s really where SPASH basketball has made
their mark, on the defensive end.
“And this team, it’s a little different, we know we can
score the ball,” he said. “But we’ve got to step up on the defensive end.”
“He’s very gifted, that’s obvious,” said Anderson. “It’s not real difficult to see
that when you watch him play, being a 6-8 kid that can handle the ball, and he
can shoot it out on the floor, he’s a really good passer, and he gets to the
rim off the dribble, and then he can draw and kick, and he can also play in the
“He’s a multi-faceted player, I love complete players like
that, and he is a complete player,” he said. “And we’ve talked about it; he’s
got a lot of work to do here in the next month to get where he wants to be.
“But that will continue coming,” he said.