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All That Glitters Isn’t Golden: Marquette’s Transfer Problem

The Hauser brothers sent shockwaves with their transfer announcement, becoming part of a recent trend of departures over the last few years.

Murray State v Marquette Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

On paper, the Marquette Golden Eagles were destined for an even stronger season next winter. After reaching the AP Top 10 for the first time, since the 2011-12 season, the Golden Eagles were looking to make some noise once Markus Howard officially announced that he will return for this senior year.

Howard was one of the catalysts for Marquette’s success this past season, with his scoring talents at the forefront of a Marquette team that boasted one of the top offenses in the conference and a Big East-best 38.8 percent clip from long range. It was also a solid all-around unit, being Steve Wojciechowski’s best defensive team since taking the helm of the program--per KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rating (45th best in the country).

With an All-American guard coming back, Marquette was simply going to reload. The Golden Eagles were set to return all but one of their rotation players, graduate transfer Joseph Chartouny. Every Marquette player was going to be a year older, wiser, and better, and the Golden Eagles would once again contend for a top spot in the Big East.

Not so fast.

Just days after Howard announced his return for his senior year, the Hauser brothers shared that they will be transferring from Marquette at the end of the the semester.

Sam Hauser averaged a career-high 14.9 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game this past season. He shot 45.9 percent overall and 40.2 percent from long range. Joey Hauser impressed in his first season on the court, after redshirting last year. He was the third-highest scorer on the team, averaging 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. He led the Golden Eagles with a team-high 42.5 percent showing from beyond the arc.

Both Hausers were key pieces in Marquette’s resurgent season, helping the Golden Eagles return to the NCAA Tournament after missing out with a NIT bid the previous year, and they were primed for another big part in the 2019-20 campaign.

There are various rumors surrounding the Hausers’ departure, with some pointing to the timing of their decision, given the recent announcement of Howard’s return. They are also going to be a packaged deal, with Virginia apparently listed as a favorite to land the brothers. The Cavaliers had recruited them both coming out of high school, as did Michigan State--which is also said to be in the hunt--as well as Wisconsin (which would be a giant slap in the face for Marquette fans.)

Regardless of how you plan on reading the tea leaves, interpreting real or fictional locker room conflicts, recovering from the news, or figuring what this might mean for the state of the Big East, the Hausers are just the latest of a transfer epidemic that has been present at Marquette since Wojciechowski’s arrival. Winning is said to be the best deodorant, but it seems that not even Marquette’s best season in the Wojo era is enough to keep the Hausers in Marquette or mask the continued pattern of departures.

Something’s happening in Milwaukee and it’s a trend that started before the Hausers first came to the university. Since Buzz Williams left Marquette and Wojciechowski entered the scene, there has been at least one transfer or early departure taking place each year.

First it was John Dawson, who left after playing just four minutes into the Wojo regime. He ultimately ended up at Liberty, where he led the Flames in scoring as a junior and started in 55 of 56 of the games he played in. Shortly after that came Deonte Burton, who left after playing eight games that season. He averaged 16.1 minutes and 6.4 points, before electing to transfer to Iowa State in the middle of the 2014-15 season. He eventually blossomed into a two-way star for the Cyclones, averaging 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 1.4 blocks in his senior season. Burton eventually made his way onto the Oklahoma City Thunder, but has since been a member of its G-League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue.

After the 2015-16 season, one-and-done Henry Ellenson left for the NBA Draft, as expected. His brother, Wally Ellenson, ditched the basketball team and took his talents over to track and field. It’s a move that may or may not have been forced. Wally averaged 8.8 minutes in 29 games of action in his one and only season on the Golden Eagles’ basketball team, after transferring in from Minnesota. He was briefly a member of the Oklahoma City Blue, but was later waived in the 2017 G-League season.

The 2016-17 season saw two Marquette players leave in the middle of the year--Sandy Cohen III and Traci Carter--and one more at the end, Duane Wilson. Cohen seemed to have a promising first half of his sophomore season and even started in 16 of the 33 games he played in. However, as a junior, he had his role diminished to just playing a handful of minutes in three games, and became a top-scorer for Green Bay. Traci Carter dashed for La Salle. Duane Wilson decided to take a graduate transfer year at Texas A&M, where he was a rotational player in a season that ended in a Sweet 16 appearance.

After starting nearly every game in his first two years at Marquette, Haanif Cheatham left after starting five games into the 2017-18 season, although it was a decision spurred by family illness and he got a hardship waiver to play at FGCU. He is now looking for a new home once again, doing so as a graduate transfer.

The Hausers’ departures are just the latest blow to the Marquette basketball program. Sam, a rising senior, will have to sit out a year before playing his final season. Meanwhile, Joey had already used a redshirt year, meaning he will have to burn a season of eligibility and get two remaining ones to play in. It seems like a price they are willing to pay, whatever their reasons to leave Marquette may be. Sam would have helped lead a team aiming for a Big East title and a deeper NCAA Tournament run, while Joey would’ve emerged as a leader after his older brother and Howard graduated.

Whatever is going on in Marquette, there is an even greater pressure on Wojo to figure out how he will replace the Hausers--not only recruiting-wise--but for next season. While it was an overall successful year, the nosedive at the end was a tough one for Marquette fans to watch, but with everyone projected to be back--there were plenty of reasons for optimism for the 2019-20 season.

Unfortunately for Marquette fans, that optimism has been put on hold. We’re now left with grim realities. How will the Golden Eagles respond?

Six of the final seven games were blemishes that overlapped a solid year. There didn’t seem to be any promising response to adversity. After losing a rematch to Villanova in an important game for the race for the Big East regular season title, the Golden Eagles lost their next three games. The highly-controversial and dramatic loss to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament semifinals was followed up with a disappointing lopsided upset loss to Murray State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Where do the Golden Eagles go from here? Who will step up in the Hausers’ place? Can Wojo capture that elusive first NCAA Tournament win?