2022-23 record: 22-14, 9-11 in Conference USA
Head coach: Aaron Fearne
Tenure at Charlotte: First season as head coach
Home court: Dale F. Halton Arena
Projected starters: G Isaiah Folkes, G Jackson Threadgill, G Lu’Cye Patterson, F Igor Milicic Jr., C Dishon Jackson
Bench: G Nik Graves, G Daylen Berry, F Robert Braswell IV, G Sterling Young, F Dean Reiber
Overview: Last season was overwhelmingly successful for Charlotte. The team won 22 games – the most since its 2000-01 season – and also won the CBI championship to take home the program’s first-ever postseason invitational title. The 49ers will look to keep the success rolling in 2023-24, but to do so, they will have to contend with several major changes to their program.
This winter will see Charlotte debut in the American Athletic Conference with Aaron Fearne as its brand-new head coach. To make things trickier, the 49ers have lost three of their strongest players: scoring leader Brice Williams, rebounds and blocks leader Aly Khalifa and Montre’ Gipson.
With these powerhouses gone, Charlotte will look to a few key players for continuity in the 2023-24 season. Guard Jackson Threadgill, one of two 49ers to start in all of Charlotte’s games last year and the only one still on the roster, brings experience to the court. Guard Lu’Cye Patterson will offer the team some offensive prowess, having averaged 10.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in each game last year. The redshirt junior also led Conference USA in the 2022-23 season with an assist-to-turnover ratio mark of 2.0. Junior forward Igor Milicic Jr. is another player to watch, having averaged 7.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season. Each of these players has proven their value on the court, but in the absence of the majority of last year’s starting lineup, it is yet to be seen whether they can step up to lead the team.
Charlotte also boasts an experienced transfer class. Center Dishon Jackson from Washington State and forward Dean Reiber from Rutgers joined the 49ers in the offseason, and both will look to make a splash in green and white this winter. The team also has a few players returning to the court after season-ending injuries last year. If Charlotte’s new and veteran players can gel together and find their rhythm, it might mean a new edge for the 49ers.
Team ceiling: The team’s new blood and strong individual talent propel it through another successful season in a more competitive league.
Team floor: A tougher AAC schedule and the absence of valuable veteran players prevents Charlotte from finding its rhythm, relegating this season to a rebuilding one.
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