The Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team held their first practice for the 2013-14 this morning, Monday, September 30. The 49ers are beginning their fourth season under head coach Alan Major.
Last season, the 49ers went 21-12 and earned the program’s first postseason tournament berth since 2008 with a trip to the NIT. Charlotte returns four starters and eight letterwinners off last season’s team. The 49ers have returned to Conference USA for the first-time since 2004-05 after playing the last eight seasons in the Atlantic 10.
Charlotte returners are led by junior Pierria Henry, a 2013 Atlantic 10 All-Defensive team selection, and sophomore Willie Clayton, a 2013 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team selection. Henry, who has ranked among the nation’s leaders in steals the last two seasons, is the 49ers leading returning scorer at 10.3 points per game. Henry averaged 2.5 steals per game last season. Clayton led the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage at 57.9%. Clayton averaged 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Junior Terrence Williams is another returning starter. Williams averaged 7.6 points per game. Rounding out the returning starters is sophomore Denzel Ingram who led the 49ers in three-point field goals made last season.
The 49ers other returning letterwinners are sophomores Ivan Benkovic, Mike Thorne, Mitch Warner and Gavin Wilson. Benkovic had two double-figure scoring games last season including a season-high 15 points at St. Bonaventure. Thorne scored a season-high 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds against Temple in Halton Arena last season.
Rounding out the 49ers roster are newcomers senior Ben Cherry, junior Bernard Sullivan, sophomores Shawn Lester and Braxton Ogbueze and freshmen Cameron Blakely, Marcus Bryan and Reid Aube. Sullivan and Ogbueze will be able to practice but they will not be able play this season due to NCAA rules after transferring to Charlotte.
The 49ers will play Wingate in an exhibition game in Halton Arena, Saturday, November 2. Charlotte will tip-off the 2013-14 season in Halton Arena against East Tennessee State on Friday, November 8.