The number of players new Charlotte 49ers coach Mark Price will need to replace for next season continues to grow.
Sources have confirmed to the Observer that two players who were key building blocks to the 49ers’ future – freshman guard Torin Dorn and top recruit Ebuka Izundu – have requested their releases from Charlotte. Whether those releases have been granted is unclear.
The apparent losses of Dorn and Izundu bring to five the number of players who will prematurely leave the program since the 49ers parted ways with former coach Alan Major on March 15. Center Mike Thorne, power forward Willie Clayton and freshman guard Keyshawn Woods (who led Conference USA in 3-point shooting percentage last season) will also transfer.
Dorn’s decision comes as a surprise. He said on the day the 49ers introduced the new coach that he looked forward to playing for Price. Last season’s freshman of the year in Conference USA, Dorn led Charlotte in scoring (12.0 points per game) and averaged 3.7 rebounds.
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Izundu, who signed a letter of intent with Charlotte last November, is considered one of the country’s top power-forward prospects.
Another recruit who had given Charlotte a verbal agreement, guard Jesse Pistokache, has also reportedly backed out.
The 49ers played last season with two seniors on the roster – starting point guard Pierria Henry and starting small forward Terrence Williams. But with the transfers, guard Braxton Ogbueze is the only starter returning.
Backup forwards Bernard Sullivan and Cameron Blakley, as well as guard Ivan Benkovic, will return. Seven-foot center Benas Griciunas, a transfer from Auburn, will be eligible next season.
Price was not immediately available for comment. But in an interview with the Observer’s Scott Fowler that will be published this weekend, Price acknowledged the earlier transfers and said “we will have to recruit to fill those spots.”
Price and his staff, which includes Houston Fancher, Chris Ferguson and Andre Gray, is already out working on finding replacements, which might include junior-college players and fifth-year graduate students. ESPN.com reported Charlotte has made an offer to Nick King, a 6-foot-7 forward who is transferring from Memphis. King averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds as a sophomore and would have to sit out next season.