#66 Charlotte Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Charlotte 49ers

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #66
Conference Rank: #2 Conference USA

Charlotte Team Page#66 Charlotte Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Charlotte Basketball Tickets

In early February Charlotte was 14-7 and had a good looking resume that included wins over Kansas State and Michigan. But then the 49ers lost six conference games in a row and their season was pretty much done for barring a Conference USA tournament title. Charlotte and Coach Alan Major do deserve some credit for winning their last two regular season games and their conference tournament opener against UAB, but the damage was done. With four starters returning and one of the best point guards around in Pierria Henry, this team will not miss the postseason again. Henry is a tough defender and a hard worker. Usually when a player is described like that he does not put up many numbers, but that is not the case here. Henry led the team with 12.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game. He even added 5.1 rebounds.

2013-14 Record: 17-14, 7-9
2013-14 Postseason: None
Coach: Alan Major
Coach Record: 61-63 at Charlotte, 61-63 overall

Who’s Out:
Denzel Ingram, Ben Cherry and Marcus Bryan are significant losses. Ingram started a handful of games, but starting or not he was usually on the floor. Ingram did boost his production as a sophomore, averaging 8.1 points and 1.9 assists per game. Cherry was a regular starter during his lone season with the 49ers after transferring in from Tulsa for his senior season. The 6-2 guard averaged 6.3 points. Ingram and Cherry were really the only consistent long range shooters a year ago and that is an issue that will need to be addressed.

Who’s In:
A couple of transfers will help bolster Charlotte’s roster. Bernard Sullivan and Braxton Ogbueze should at least provide some much needed quality depth. Sullivan, a 6-8 junior from Clemson, may never be more than a bruiser in the paint, but he does have untapped potential that a change of scenery could ignite. Ogbueze spent one year at Florida and played in 23 games. The 6-1 guard was highly regarded coming out of high school and should be in for a nice collegiate career back in his hometown. Shooting guards Torin Dorn and Keyshawn Woods are the only two freshmen on the roster. Woods is the reigning North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year and will immediately help replace the lost production of Ingram and Cherry.

Who to Watch:
With the addition of Ogbueze and Woods, this should be a very deep and talented backcourt. Henry knows how to get his teammates involved and Shawn Lester and Terrence Williams will certainly benefit once again from Henry’s presence on the floor. Lester was the sixth man last season and could play that role again during his junior campaign. Lester is not always the most consistent player, but he can score in bunches and provide a nice spark off of the bench. Williams is not known for his consistent shooting either. Last year he shot just 37.5 percent from the floor and 28.1 percent from beyond the arc. He is a decent rebounder on the wing, but his playing time could drop if his offensive decision making does not improve and the newcomers are ready to step up. Ivan Benkovic missed last season with an injury and is a capable long range shooting option off of the bench. Overall, this is a backcourt that has talent and depth and just needs to find consistency on offense.

Final Projection:
Unlike most of the backcourt, 6-8 forward Willie Clayton is an efficient scorer. He averaged 10.8 points and a team high 8.9 rebounds during his sophomore season. Clayton could turn into a player who needs to be double teamed by many opponents and that will give the backcourt more space to operate on the perimeter. Clayton figures to be joined by Mike Thorne Jr. in the starting lineup. At 6-11 and 270 pounds, Thorne is the big body in the paint. He proved to be a good scoring option too and was not far behind Clayton last year with 9.1 points and 6.7 rebounds. Cameron Blakley will have to battle it out with Sullivan for minutes in the paint. Getting production from Blakley or Sullivan will be huge for a team that does not have much frontcourt depth. But other than that, this is a squad that Coach Alan Major should have battling for a Conference USA title.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Pierria Henry, Senior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Shawn Lester, Junior, Guard, 11.9 points per game
Terrence Williams, Senior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Willie Clayton, Junior, Forward, 10.8 points per game
Mike Thorne, Junior, Center, 9.1 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.5 (155th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.6 (220, 13)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.5 (157, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.5 (169, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.0 (186, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (113, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 64.8 (322, 13)
Rebound Margin: 3.3 (68, 4)
Assists Per Game: 13.5 (102, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.7 (323, 15)


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