ESPN Insider on the 49ers

If this plays out as written, things will be just fine! Apologies for the length.

When you’re an Atlantic 10 Conference school recruiting in Atlantic Coast Conference territory, you need a back-up plan. Nobody knows this cold, hard fact better than Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz, who is a native of North Carolina and was an assistant at Clemson in the early 1980s.

Last fall the 49ers were hot on the trail of high school point guard Ishmael Smith, from nearby Concord, N.C. They thought they had a legitimate shot at landing him, too, but Lutz had been around long enough to know not to bet an important piece of his program on the whim of a high school senior. So he kept up the lines of communication with 6-1 Carlos Williams, from Wabash Valley Junior College in Louisville.

Charlotte had stumbled upon Williams while recruiting current 49ers Antwon Coleman and Jerrell Jamison. After watching Williams dominate a junior college all-star game, Charlotte’s coaching staff had no doubt he could play in A-10. What the 49ers didn’t know was whether they’d have a spot for him. When Smith signed with Wake Forest, where he’s expected to compete for the starting point guard position, they did.

Williams is one of two junior college transfers who are expected to make an immediate impact on a Charlotte team that lost three starters, including three-time first-team all-conference player Curtis Withers. The other one is 6-9 junior shooting guard Sean Phaler, from Fullerton Junior College.

Lutz admits that in a perfect world, he’d recruit nobody but high school players. But if the best high school players are choosing North Carolina, NC State, Duke and Wake Forest, he has to recruit players who can compete at that level. “We’re not going to take a player that’s not the caliber we want if we can get a junior college player that’s better,” Lutz said.

Sometimes it works out, as in the case of Williams, who addresses one of two major needs for Charlotte – consistent point guard play. The 49ers lost a good one in Mitchell Baldwin, and while Lutz believes 6-1 junior guard Leemire Goldwire (13.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg) can run the point, along with 6-0 sophomore Jerrell Lewis (17 games played), Williams, who averaged 11.0 points and 5.3 assists at Wabash Valley, is a more natural lead guard.

“Williams is a play-maker like we haven’t had in a long time,” said Lutz, who compares him favorably with former Charlotte point guard Sean Colson, who plays professionally. “If he can learn and adapt [quickly], he’s a tremendous passer and can create so much.”

Goldwire, who was the 49ers’ second-best three-point shooter last year, will be much more effective on the wing. That is, if he can come back from April foot surgery. He was finally cleared to practice in August, and although he’s behind his teammates in terms of conditioning, Lutz has no doubt he’ll be ready to go by November.

What Lutz appreciates more than Goldwire’s work ethic and toughness, though, is his maturity. Goldwire is already married and carries a 3.0 grade point average. He commands so much respect that many players on the team wanted him to make him a captain last season.

“He’s just that type of kid,” Lutz said. “He’s dealt with a lot of things and handled them all very well.”

While Lutz wonders whether Williams can pick up the offense and Goldwire will be healthy, one player he does not have to worry about is 6-5 senior guard De’Angelo Alexander (17.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg). In his first season with the 49ers after transferring from Oklahoma, Alexander led the team in scoring and the conference in three-point field goals made (96) to earn first-team All-A-10 honors.
As good as he was last season, however, Lutz believes Alexander can do more with less. Alexander averaged 34.7 minutes per game last year, which, in the eyes’ of Lutz, was too many. He envisions Alexander playing a little less and scoring a little more.

In addition to Lutz being mindful of his playing time, Alexander took a couple steps of his own to ensure his final year will be one to remember.

First, the 227-pound Alexander trimmed down.

“He’s plenty strong,” Lutz said. “I think we agreed at the end of last year that we wouldn’t worry about his strength, but work on his agility, quickness and explosiveness. That’s what he did and he’s leaner and in better shape now.” Second, he worked out with former NBA player John Lucas in Houston.

The Midwest City, Okla., native spent the rest of the summer in Charlotte taking classes, going to the gym and working out with teammates.

“De’Angelo has elevated his commitment this summer, and that’s good to have as a coach,” Lutz said. “He’s not a verbal leader, but he plays with emotion and passion and I love that. He definitely leads by example.”

The 49ers shot more three-pointers than anyone in the A-10 last season, and expect that number to go up with the addition of 6-9 Phaler, 6-4 freshman Ian Andersen from Portland, Ore., and 6-5 freshman Charlie Dewhurst from Charlotte. Phaler committed to UCLA out of high school, but when Steve Lavin was let go he was released from his commitment. He attended New Mexico for two years – one of which was spent as a medical red-shirt after a frightening motorcycle accident – then transferred to Fullerton Junior College to be closer to his father, Walt, who was battling cancer. With enough sobering experiences for a lifetime, and a few more semesters until he earns his degree, Phaler was simply looking for somewhere he felt comfortable.

"He told me, ‘Coach, I don’t need any of that recruiting B.S.,’ " Lutz said.

While Phaler gets a stable program to finish his career, Lutz gets a 6-9 player who, he says, can shoot the ball like a two-guard.

“He’s a guy who I think can score more points per minute than anybody in our league,” Lutz said.

The other major need for Charlotte is rebounding. Lutz is not as confident about that as he is point guard.

“I feel as good about our team one through four as I have in a long time,” Lutz said. “But we’re a little vulnerable in the middle.”

One player who could make the 49ers less vulnerable is 6-7 senior Antwon Coleman (3.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg). Coleman played in all 31 games last year, but averaged only 13 minutes per game because of his weight, which last year hovered around 315 pounds. He’s dropped down to 265, which should translate into more minutes.

The 49ers also need 6-9 senior Courtney Williams (1.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg) to become more of a physical presence rather than a finesse player. Lutz is also betting on the triumphant return of 6-8 senior E.J. Drayton (8.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg). Drayton played in six games last year before shutting it down because of chronic tendinitis in his left knee. Drayton applied for a medical red-shirt and received it. Although Drayton isn’t the type of player who will mix it up down low, he does give Charlotte a more well rounded lineup, along with 6-5 senior Jerrell Jamison (0.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg).

“Almost every year we’ve had a four guy who could shoot the ball and was really skilled,” Lutz said. “E.J. can shoot it; he’s a threat. With him back we can get back to four out, one in, where [Drayton] is doing a lot of things himself on the perimeter.”

The 49ers’ front line will be fortified by two freshmen, one a late signee who turned up Aug. 30.

Phil Jones, a 6-10, 255-pound center from Brooklyn by way of Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep, was rated just below the Top 100 (106 by Rivals) but could be an impact player. He was being courted by several upper-echelon programs that still had scholarships remaining late in the summer, among them Kentucky, St. John’s and Indiana.

Last season, Jones averaged 19.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.3 blocked shots. Scout rated him the No. 15 center in the class of 2006.

“Phil Jones is a great addition to our basketball team,” Lutz said. “He is a true low post scorer with excellent hands in addition to his size. Phil has a chance to contribute greatly to our team this season. He completes an excellent recruiting class in general and freshman class in particular.”

David Booker, a 6-7 forward from Mississippi who averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds last season Moss Point High School, will compete for playing time right away. He was the Mississippi high school player of the year."

“[Booker] has excellent offensive skills,” Lutz said. “He is a very good shooter and exceptional passer for a big forward in addition to his abilities around the basket.”

Because it’s difficult to find a non-conference team that will commit to a game at Charlotte, the 49ers will be road warriors again, traveling to Syracuse, Indiana, Mississippi State and Davidson. At the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii, Charlotte will play Houston and either Creighton or Valparaiso.

“Our road schedule is extremely challenging,” Lutz said. “But we’re fine with that.”

In eight seasons at Charlotte, Lutz has built a program that seems to lose key parts every year, yet is still able to compete. He thinks that’s the case in his ninth.

“Last year we had three key losses but we still finished second,” Lutz said. “We have some key losses but I think we have the potential to be in the top four again.”


Every year Charlotte loses a couple outstanding players and appears on the verge of taking a step backward. But it never does. Part of that has to do with Lutz’s coaching ability, but it also has to do with his ability to recruit ready-to-play junior college talent. This year’s JUCO stars are Williams and Phaler.

The addition of those two, combined with Alexander and Goldwire on the wings and a healthy Drayton at the point-forward position, make the 49ers a dangerous team on the perimeter. Where they might struggle, however, is in the post, where they’ll need increased production from seniors Coleman and Williams to replace that of Withers.

If Charlotte can survive its non-conference schedule, it will be ready for an ever-improving A-10. But don’t expect anything better than second, as the 49ers are still not ready to compete with Xavier.

Great article.

Wow awesome write up, they nailed us. I think we’ll finish 2nd in the A10 like last year, but we’ll have a much better record in and out of conference.

woot well said.

Best breakdown I’ve seen so far. So ESPN Insider uses Blue Ribbon’s analysis?

Would if I could make this article my signature. Yep, the whole damn thing. Best writeup I’ve ever seen - and I love Lutz’s take on the whole high school vs. JUCO recruitment.

[QUOTE]The 49ers lost one in Mitchell Baldwin[/QUOTE]


…everything else makes a lot of sense.

That is a good write up.

I’m trying to understand what this Blue Ribbon Analysis says about us.
We got:

Texas got :

and Creighton got:

So does this mean we should be a little better than or even with Texas and a little worse than Creighton? If so, thats certainly not bad company.

GREAT ARTICLE!!! That’s one of the most analytical, complete, and downright best articles I’ve ever seen written about us.

The onliy thing mising was this quote:

The 49ers are known to have some of the best fans in college basketball.

Accept hopefully they wouldn’t say it like that.

[QUOTE=49or bust;193930]Accept hopefully they wouldn’t say it like that.[/QUOTE]

Ouch. Good catch. How did I not catch 2 typos in the same sentence. Thanks. It’s been edited.

Ouch. Good catch. How did I not catch 2 typos in the same sentence. Thanks. It's been edited.
:lol: We all do it all the time. I just like giving people a hard time.

[QUOTE=LeftyNiner;193907]Best breakdown I’ve seen so far. So ESPN Insider uses Blue Ribbon’s analysis?[/QUOTE]

Lefty, yes they do. That’s why I said if you want to buy one – and only one – hoops preview, then spend the $25 on Blue Ribbon. It’s worth it.

Did catch a gaff in the 2nd paragraph – Wabash Valley College is in Mt. Carmel, IL, not Louisville. Guess they meant to say Williams, who is from Louisville, attended WVC. Mt. Carmel is basically in the middle of nowhere, with the largest city of any note in the vicinity being Evansville, IN!

Of course, the writer shows he’s geographically challenged again when mentioning we will again be “road warriors” this season, we travel to Davidson. Yep, that’s a long haul! :rolleyes:

Still, great write-up. Second only to WH, which we will see this week or, hopefully, next, since he’s going from last to first in posting them.


Of course, the writer shows he's geographically challenged again when mentioning we will again be "road warriors" this season, we travel to Davidson. Yep, that's a long haul! :rolleyes:
What he was probably getting at is that it is another school's home court. UNCCH travels to DOOK and UNCR every year and those are about as hard as road games get.

Just read this. Great article and analysis! Well written. That blue Ribbon analysis is probably pretty good since no one really knows what the starting line up is going to look like through the season.

Blue Ribbon is the best hoops publication, period. I annually sign up with ESPN Insider for a month just to read those previews.

Amazing write-up, very good stuff. Makes me even more excited to read WH’s!! Thx for posting it HP.

Awesome read for a Monday morning back at work…great stuff.

My favorite part:

"Williams is a play-maker like we haven't had in a long time," said Lutz, who compares him favorably with former Charlotte point guard Sean Colson, who plays professionally. "If he can learn and adapt [quickly], he's a tremendous passer and can create so much."

Those are some strong words but if that comparison holds any weight, I’m gonna truly enjoy the next couple of seasons.

[B]Except[/B] hopefully they wouldn't say it like that.


[QUOTE=49or bust;193930]Accept hopefully they wouldn’t say it like that.[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE=austinniner;194076][B]Except[/B] hopefully they wouldn’t say it like that.
fixed [/QUOTE]