Thursday and Friday this week, Tony Bennett will play host to two of the most high profile transfer candidates on the market this offseason in Sam and Joey Hauser. HoozGotNext already wrote a very detailed history of their initial recruitments and how their re-recruitments brought us to this point, you can find that linked here, and I highly recommend the read (no Facebook account / login required to read his post).
Readers' Digest version: They were two very well regarded recruits in their initial class (Sam RSCI #94 in 2016, Joey RSCI #57 in 2018), hailing from the same Wisconsin hometown as UVA coaches Tony Bennett and Brad Soderberg, and have proven themselves as quality D-1 players in the rigorous Big East on a winning team. Few transfers come with their pedigree.
But while HGN already deftly covered the story from the player history aspect, we at Hoos Place (Seattle and StLou) wanted to prime this visit from another discussion angle. You see, if you read some of the message boards and gurus, you may see posters and writers debating if the Hausers are actually a take. On first glance, that's surprising, how could they not be? They were the #2 and #3 players on arguably the Big East's best team. Certainly a UVA club saying farewell to the majority of its roster with few obvious replacements in the queue would take and love two guys like this, right?
There are a lot of moving pieces right now, and they all tie into a couple of key constraints. First, there are only 13 scholarships to go around, and with the Tomas Woldetensae commitment this week, UVA is sitting at 11 going into next year with Mamadi's eligibility currently still maintained. The Hausers would potentially occupy the final two spots for the time being. (And before one of you asks "couldn't they pay their own way?", the answer is they're not going to do that.) Second, do their presences on the roster tilt the backcourt/frontcourt scholarship distribution too far out of whack. These two aren't little guards, and back court play wins in March, so we have to consider how their presence handicaps guard/wing development to pair with them.
And to know more on these constraints, there are a lot of outstanding questions that have to be answered. Some Tony may already privately know the answers to, others will come to light in the coming days, and others still will be unknown for quite a while.
So here are those open questions that coach Bennett will be weighing when deciding whether to offer the Hausers a pair of scholarships.
Questions affecting the 2019-20 season:
1) Is Mamadi going pro? If he stays in the draft, that's an extra scholarship this coming year to give to a sit-out-transfer. Secondary effect is that it means incoming freshman big man Kadin Shedrick is a near lock to play as a true freshman. If Mamadi decides to return for his RS Senior year, however, the Hausers potentially would account for the final two available 'ships (same secondary effect that Shedrick may then redshirt with Diakite, Huff, and Caffaro already in place in the post). This will be known probably by middle of next week.
2) Is Frankie Badocchi going to bounce back and contribute? We're not here to question the concerns that held Badocchi out of the lineup for most of the year, clearly we respect the player and team privacy on that matter. Simply means it's a question mark if those concerns will keep him from being a near- or long-term asset to the roster. Like Diakite, a departure frees up space both from a scholarship and a playing time need perspective, while his potential return and breakout would have the opposite effect. Tony and the staff probably have some close-hold feelings on how this will turn out, even if we fans do not.
3) Do we have enough guard depth, and can Key or McKoy give us good minutes at the 3 this year? Guard depth is critical today and involves several distinct considerations. Is there enough guard depth to always have two quality guards on the floor, with the necessary blend of abilities? Is there enough guard depth to put three guards on the floor for substantial minutes? Is there enough variation in abilities to allow for tactical flexibility either proactively or reactively? This past season, we had three guards ready for meaningful minutes, one of them a true freshman. While they were enough to carry Virginia to a national championship, there were several games that severely tested the guard depth. The regular-season N.C. State game was perhaps the stiffest test. When Kihei broke his wrist, and when Ty hurt his back, those depth concerns almost became critical.
The Hoos again have three guards on the roster. Kihei Clark is no longer the green freshman; he's now the grizzled veteran of the backcourt. Tomas Woldetenesae will be a junior, but a rookie in Virginia's system and the ACC. Consider him an experienced infantryman joining a special forces unit. Casey Morsell will be the true freshman of the group. At present, that is it. Last season, three guards was enough - barely. Will it be enough this season? Tony doesn't want to find out. He will continue to pursue a fourth guard. That pursuit will impact the Hauser scholarship situation in a couple of ways. First, any guard will be competing with them for 2019 scholarships. But second, if that fourth guard is not a one-year player, they will be competing also with the 2020 recruiting class for 2020 scholarships.
Questions affecting the 2020-21 season and beyond:
1) Will Henry Coleman commit to UVA if given the time? Coleman has a committable offer, but he is taking his time deciding whether he wants to take it. Depending on what the coaches do with the guard position, there might not be a scholarship for Coleman if the Hausers come. What will Tony prefer? And can he afford to wait for Coleman if he has ACC-quality players wanting to sign now?
2) Can either of the Hausers play/defend the 3 at an ACC level? Defense comes first with Tony Bennett, and defensive versatility is important. There is some question whether the Hausers will have the ability to stay in front of ACC wings. If they have to be matched up with power forwards defensively, it will adversely impact roster balance.
3) Will we get a 5th year from Jay Huff? At the end of 2019-20, Huff will have completed four years at the University and presumably have earned his degree. Will he use his fourth year of eligibility? At this point, it is an open question whether he will be an NBA prospect next spring, but it is certainly not too far from being a probability. And if not, will he want to move on to the professional realm anyway? Or might he decide to use his fourth year of eligibility at another school? Without Jay, the need for another big man in 2020-21 would be greater, but then there would also be another free scholarship for filling it.
4) How confident are we on a 6th year waiver for Joey? Joey Hauser was injured when his redshirt year started. He could ask for a waiver for a sixth year on medical hardship grounds, and whether it would be granted is up in the air. Having a player sit a year is more palatable if you are still going to get three years out of him.
5) Are there any red flags surrounding their departure from Marquette? The decision to transfer was surprising given that their coach was returning, and Marquette projected to have a very good year. Whenever a player transfers in those circumstances, you have to wonder at the reasons and if the player might adversely impact your team's chemistry. Team unity is crucial to success at UVA - one might even call it a pillar of the program's success.
Let's play some "what if's."
Scenario A says Mamadi stays, Badocchi stays, Key and McKoy aren't ideal as ACC 3's in the small-ball era, Huff is a 5-year player, Coleman ends up a Hoo for 3/4 years, and Joey's waiver isn't something you can bet on.
Here's next year's scholarship picture:
Here's the year after:
Scenario B says Mamadi goes pro, Badocchi's concerns persist and we unfortunately don't have him to count on going forward, Huff leaves early, Coleman isn't a safe bet to choose UVA, Sam can give good minutes at the 3, and Joey's waiver is granted.
Here's next year's scholarship picture:
Here's the year after:
Two very different scenarios, two very different sets of conditions upon which to consider the Hausers. In Scenario A, we go into next season with just four capable backcourt players, three of them largely unproven, while the other nine scholarships are tied up with redshirts and front court players. Going forward from there, there's potentially only one 2020 scholarship to offer, and if that goes to Coleman there's no room to get the 2020 PG Tony wants. Arguably, the Hausers are superfluous in this scenario because even without them, you've got six guys potentially on the roster that year who can man the front court (Huff, Badocchi, McKoy, Caffaro, Shedrick, and Coleman) while the real additional need is on guards to join the 2020 class. However, in Scenario B, the departures of Diakite and/or Badocchi mean there's still a free scholarship this year to use on a grad-transfer guard (hearing UVA is interested in a few still on the market), while two years out there's a real need for experienced bigs with only underclassmen McKoy, Caffaro, and Shedrick returning. In this scenario, there's ample scholarships and playing time to take both Hausers AND add another player or two to the guard rotation in the 2020 recruiting class.
The eventuality will likely land somewhere in between these two extreme scenarios. Roster turnover is the norm in college basketball. Tony Bennett has thought all these issues through with his knowledge of his players, and has decided to have Sam and Joey visit. He would not do that if he did not have serious interest in them, because Tony Bennett does not waste people's time. In the end, they are very good basketball players with whom he already has a relationship.