One of the key components of the Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team’s first 3-0 start since 1995 (we’d venture to say that a vast majority of our readers can’t remember all the way back then) has been the play of its freshmen, especially Denzel Ingram, Willie Clayton and Darion Clark. With all three seeing significant time so far (Clark has cracked the starting lineup in the first three games), they’ve shown some signs of potential to make their mark on the Charlotte program.
It was great to see the trio get after it in the first game, a win against Charleston Southern. Clark (in 33 minutes) scored only six points but led the team with 11 boards. Clayton dropped in eight while Ingram scored seven while recording four steals. In the 70-49 win over Lamar, Ingram went off in a big way, scoring sixteen points (6-8 from the field, 3-4 from three-point range); Ingram and Clark each had seven rebounds while scoring nine and eight points, respectively.
However, as expected, there are some growing pains to handle with younger players. The trio had a combined ten turnovers against Georgia Southern (the team committed 19 as a whole), with Clark only able to pull down one rebound. But they were able to shake it off and bounce back nicely in the blowout win over Lamar a few days back. Ivan Benkovic, who saw his first action in a Niner uniform against the Cardinals (13 minutes), wasn’t a factor, with both of his three-point attempts missing.
Obviously, these are freshmen, so let’s be patient with them and make a judgment later in the season. But, for the most part, the positives are shining through early on.