Dec. 14, 2012; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Charlotte 49ers forward Willie Clayton (21) shoots over Miami Hurricanes center Reggie Johnson (42) during the first half at the BankUnited Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte 49ers basketball: Ranking the freshmen

Hard to believe, but we’re six games into the Atlantic 10 schedule with ten to go. Here’s how things stack up numbers wise for the Charlotte 49ers’ freshmen quartet (Darion Clark, Willie Clayton, Denzel Ingram, Ivan Benkovic) at this point in the season.

Darion Clark
Pros: Clark has shown talent as a shot blocker (see his four block performance against Xavier) and has a knack for racking up boards (nearly 5 per game). He’s also developed a habit of drawing fouls (63 free throw attempts–fifth on the team).
Cons: He’s been a poor free throw shooter (36.7%), and for someone that gets to the line as much as he does, that percentage will need to come up in a big way. I’d like to see him continue to use his size to develop himself into a more consistent rebounder nightly. He had a few double digit games earlier in the year but his output’s come down a bit in that department.

Denzel Ingram
Pros: Ingram is a player that I saw some serious hustle from in the Xavier game (denying a player a fast break layup without picking up a foul with about a minute left in the game and the outcome still hanging in the balance). He’s shown some promise from long range as well, and is a decent free throw shooter–that said, he doesn’t get to the line that much (9 of 12).
Cons: His offensive consistency could stand to increase–there’s been more than a few 0-for/1-for games on his stat sheet over the course of this season. He’ll need to bring his hustle with him every game, too.

Willie Clayton
Pros: If you’ve followed the site over the past few weeks, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Clayton’s game. He’s an absolute grinder and a strong finisher inside that isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty and fight for offensive rebounds. He has an absolute nose for the basketball and looks like he will be a star player for this program in his career.
Cons: Several times over the past few games he’s blown some open layups, so if Clayton will continue with this aspect of this game, he’ll need to finish more consistently from close range. That should come with time.

Ivan Benkovic
I haven’t seen a ton of Benkovic this year to make a good, solid judgment on him–he’s only played 102 minutes. While he has shown some talent defensively, more often than not he’s shown some lapses. His role looks to be almost solely as a sharpshooter.

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