Here’s why I voted for Sam Hauser as ACC POY

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Sam Hauser

Photo: twitter.com

Carolina’s Garrison Brooks was voted preseason ACC Player of the Year today by media participating in the ACC Operation Basketball.

Brooks had 102 votes to Virginia’s Sam Hauser’s 24, a virtual landslide.

Here’s why I was one of the 24.

Hauser is a relative unknown to the ACC voting pool. They’ve heard of him, nice player at Marquette, but they don’t really know much about him. Even UVA fans don’t know too much because Hauser sat out last season as a transfer.

Since he arrived in Charlottesville, I’ve heard snippets from his teammates about how good Hauser was, and I’ve interviewed him on my radio show. He’s not shy. He’ll readily tell you that he can shoot it and he doesn’t lack for confidence.

A friend of mine mentioned that when he sat near Hauser on a plane sometime last year, he asked if Hauser was a basketball player, and Hauser confirmed that he was on Virginia’s team. The friend asked Hauser who was the best shooter on the Cavaliers’ squad, and Hauser unapologetically said, “I am.”

Don’t know about you, but I like that kind of confidence in a player.

I recently had Jason Williford, UVA’s associate head coach, on my radio show and we talked about Hauser for a couple of minutes to open the interview (you can listen to the entire interview on the podcast featured on this website). I told Williford that I had cast my POY vote for Hauser.

“He’s pretty doggone good,” Williford said. “He can shoot the ball. He has IQ, knows how to play. He will be able to do multiple things within what we do.”

I asked JWilly, as Williford is known, about whether Hauser was the best shooter on the team and he said, “that would be a very accurate assessment outside of Tony (head coach Tony Bennett) last year.”

Bennett, the NCAA’s all-time 3-point percentage record-holder in college, still hasn’t lost his shooting touch, although it would be fun to watch Bennett and Hauser go at it in a shooting contest.

After all I had heard about Hauser’s shooting ability, Williford kind of blew my mind when he told me a little story about a recent intrasquad scrimmage.

“Sam scored 22 of 28 points in one segment of the scrimmage,” Williford said. “It was unreal. He just caught fire. He surprises us when the ball doesn’t go in.”

That means from anywhere reasonable on the court.

“He has the ability to shoot the ball from behind the arc, but also makes free throws, and he can drive it, and has a little bit of a post game. He’s very competitive,” Williford said.

Certainly that’s a welcome relief for Virginia, which struggled mightily on offense last season, particularly until the Cavaliers went on a blazing run down the home stretch.

With Hauser in the lineup, if teams gang up on him, he should have adequate help in 7-footer Jay Huff, point guard Kihei Clark, an infusion of freshman talent and several returnees who should be better.

Huff told me during a radio interview last March that, “I think Sam Hauser will be a nightmare for opposing teams next season.”

That was at the tail end of last season. Hauser has only gotten better since then.

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