College Sports

Charlotte 49ers display more experience, depth - and size - in basketball scrimmage

Charlotte 49ers junior point guard Jon Davis, who made All-Conference USA second team last season, leads an experienced backcourt.
Charlotte 49ers junior point guard Jon Davis, who made All-Conference USA second team last season, leads an experienced backcourt.

The Charlotte 49ers played a brief Green-White scrimmage Wednesday at Halton Arena – with the Green team winning 34-33 behind center Jailan Haslem’s 13 points and eight rebounds.

Here are five takeaways from the scrimmage, as the 49ers (13-17, 7-11 Conference USA last season) prepare for their season opener Nov. 10 at home against Division III Methodist:

Solid, experienced core

For the first time in coach Mark Price’s three seasons, the 49ers will have a group of experienced, talented players from which to build. Junior guards Jon Davis and Andrien White (12 points for the White team) have started since setting foot on campus, and 6-foot-7 senior guard Austin Ajukwa was a key contributor last season after transferring from Clemson. Sophomore forward Najee Garvin (12 for the White team) is also back, as is senior guard Hudson Price.

With the exception of Price – a grad student now who missed the scrimmage because he had a class – the other four set the tone of the scrimmage. Davis, who has made at least one preseason All-Conference USA team, finished with four points, three rebounds and an assist.

The missing piece?

Haslem, a 6-10 junior-college transfer from Gordon State (Ga.) immediately made his presence felt, dominating the inside, including a strong move early when he hit a short hook shot over freshman Bryant Thomas. Haslem gives the 49ers an inside presence they haven’t had since the 2015-16 season (Mark Price’s first) with rebounding machine Joseph Uchebo.

“I don’t know if anybody can rebound like Joseph did, but big Jailan is a piece we didn’t have last season,” Price said. “He’s a big, physical player who has a great attitude. He knows what we need from him.”

More depth

Price said he hopes there is enough talent on the roster for him to play a nine-man rotation. That means two freshmen from Serbia, 6-8 guard Luka Vasic -- who drained a 3-pointer off a fast break Wednesday -- and 6-9 Milos Supica – will need to develop quickly. Supica didn’t play Wednesday because of an illness.

Team play

Price – who observed the scrimmage while assistants Houston Fancher, Ivo Simovic and Andre Gray coached – said he was pleased with the game’s pace. But the coaching staff wanted the players to remember to keep things within a team-first framework.

“I don’t want to see that one-on-one stuff,” Fancher said to one of the young players during a timeout. “You haven’t earned that yet.”

Recruiting target

The 49ers are reportedly in the running for top-100 recruit Filip Petrusev, a 6-11 power forward from Serbia. The 49ers might have a pretty good shot at Petrusev: He’s buddies with Vasic and they were teammates last season at Avon Old Farms School (Conn.). Petrusev has since transferred to Montverde (Fla.) Academy.

David Scott: @davidscott14