Aside from the loss of fan favorite Colby Lewis, the backcourt for the Charlotte 49ers stayed relatively intact and even added some needed firepower.
Returning: Pierria Henry (Jr.), Denzel Ingram (So.), Terrence Williams (Jr.), Ivan Benkovic (So.)
Additions: Shawn Lester (So.), Ben Cherry (Sr.)
Losses: Colby Lewis (Graduation)
Pierria Henry returns for his junior season and is the unquestioned leader of this team. The jack-of-all-trades guard will be even more important to the success of the 49ers now that Chris Braswell has exhausted his eligibility. Junior guard Terrence Williams also returns for Charlotte. Williams had his fair share of trouble shooting the basketball last season but made up for it by playing strong defense and slashing to the basket. If he can develop a consistent jump shot, Conference USA guards will have trouble stopping him. Denzel Ingram was a pleasant surprise last season as the diminutive guard started 28 games as a freshman and allowed Henry to play off the ball at times. Ingram will look to improve his ball handling under pressure and outside shooting in his sophomore season. Rounding out the returning players is key role player Ivan Benkovic. Known as a 3-point specialist, Benkovic was the only consistent 3-point shooter on the team as he hit nearly 40% of his shots from long range. He will need to improve on the defensive end of the floor if he hopes to get more minutes in the rotation this season.
The 49ers last season ranked 342nd in 3-point field goals per game and it was noticeable. Alan Major brought in newcomers Shawn Lester and Ben Cherry to try and fix it. Lester, who played in the Jordan Brand Regional Game in 2012, had to sit out last season as he was ruled academically ineligible. Having regained his eligibility, Lester will bring a scorers’ mentality to a team that desperately needs the offense. Ben Cherry was granted a sixth season of eligibility and was a part of the mass exodus of players from the Tulane program over the summer. Cherry, who is from Myers Park, wanted to play close to home in his final season of eligibility and chose to play for the Charlotte over Winthrop. For Tulane last season, he saw limited playing time as he recovered from knee injuries but did manage to hit 50% of the 3-point shots he attempted.
Check back tomorrow as we preview the frontcourt.