Sam Hauser, an undrafted rookie out of Virginia, is on a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics and could play for the Maine Celtics in the upcoming season. Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress via AP

LAS VEGAS — When Sam Hauser wasn’t selected in the 2021 NBA Draft, the rookie sharpshooter out of Virginia had to make a quick decision.

“I didn’t get drafted, obviously,” Hauser said Thursday night. “Then right as the draft ended, Boston called and they said we’re going to offer you a two-way, and I got 10 minutes to kind of decide.”

Despite getting numerous other suitors looking to sign him, Hauser agreed to a two-way deal with Boston on draft night and showed why the team was so high on him during Boston’s big win on Thursday night. The 6-foot-8 forward scored a game-high 21 points off the bench in the blowout victory, knocking down 6 of 10 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc. He also dished out seven assists in 26 minutes.

Hauser is now shooting 40 percent from 3-point range during Summer League after a quiet first two games in Las Vegas.

“I think I can shoot, so I think just taking it to the next level,” Hauser said of the adjustment. “The speed of the game is a lot quicker. The first two games, I was kind of getting used to it, I couldn’t really make a shot, but I think this third game, I kinda got my legs underneath me and adjusted, so I just think just taking my shooting to the next level.”

Boston lacks reliable shooting depth at the power forward spot on the team’s current 15-man roster, so the addition of Hauser could provide Ime Udoka with a valuable option at the end of the bench in some games. Hauser worked out for the Celtics in Boston ahead of the draft and liked the vibe from the team.


“They said I had a really good workout,” he explained. “They said they weren’t sure if I was in their range or not in the draft. But I ended up here, so sort of a blessing in disguise, I guess. So, I’m happy with the fit. And I’m glad to be in Boston.”

The big question for Hauser as far as his NBA development will come on the defensive end. He lacks elite athleticism, so he will need to work on his agility and positioning to hang with quicker forwards on the wings.

“It’s a lot different. It’s more isolation ball,” Hauser said of the defensive adjustment. “At Virginia, you had help all around, definitely an adjustment there, but that’s the NBA, so I gotta get used to it.”

For now, the 23-year-old is just playing a supporting role on a talented Summer League squad and has several recent first-round picks who he can turn to as valuable resources.

“I mean, having five guys on our roster in summer league with one year under their belt, or two, or three. I’m just kind of hearing bits and pieces of what they had to say, taking it in, being a sponge,” he explained. “And I’m definitely gonna be learning on the fly this year a lot, too. So playing with great players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, you can learn a lot, so I’m definitely going to take time, listen, and just be a sponge and absorb whatever I can.”

Hauser has a long road to becoming a contributor on the main roster, but his skill set could be an area of need in Boston’s front court. In the meantime, he’s making a very strong impression with the team’s coaching staff while trying to adjust to a different game.


“Sam has been tremendous,” said Joe Mazzulla, head coach of the Summer League team. “The highlight of the game, the only thing we talked about at halftime, was there were three of the most unselfish plays I’ve seen in Summer League in my two years watching. Sam sprinted from corner to the slot and then back cut, and it got Aaron (Nesmith) a wide-open shot. We missed it, so nobody will probably remember it, but I thought was just tremendous. Bruno (Fernando) and Zach (Auguste) had similar plays like that.

“Sam is extremely unselfish. He’s much more of a physical defender than people may give him credit for, and he’s become a better individual defender throughout this week.”

CELTICS FANS won’t be seeing Payton Pritchard bombing away from 3-point land for the rest of Summer League. Pritchard wasn’t at Friday’s practice on UNLV’s campus, but he won’t be at the final two games of Summer League, Mazzulla confirmed.

“We’re having a talk as a team and organization, and Payton won’t be with us the rest of the way,” Mazzulla said after practice. “That’s a prior engagement he made months ago and it’s something we honored.”

Pritchard looked like one of the best guards in Summer League when he did play, starting all three games while averaging 20.3 points on 57.7% 3-point shooting.

The Celtics are in contention for the Summer League championship with a 3-0 record, including two blowout victories. Normally, Summer League has bracket play, but the updated format just has the two best teams play in the championship game.


Pritchard was one of five NBA returners on Boston’s roster. Carsen Edwards, Aaron Nesmith, Bruno Fernando and Romeo Langford round out a roster that’s made some noise in Las Vegas.

Pritchard averaged 8.7 assists per game – another solid sign of development.

As Pritchard enters his second year, he aims to have an elevated role off the bench. While Summer League results should always have some context, Pritchard’s play over three games impressed.

“Shooting off the pick-and-roll a variety of ways is a big separator in the league,” Pritchard said after Thursday’s win over Orlando. “You see a lot of good guards do that. Obviously, being able to manage the game, being able to control the pace, and I think that’s a good thing we’ve been harping on, is like, pushing it, throwing the ball ahead or getting guys an easy look in transition.”

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