2024 North Carolina Sports Network
NC Basketball Spotlight, 10-Year Snapshot:

By Ben McCormick
North Carolina Sports Network

School: University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte)

Location: Charlotte, N.C.

NCAA Division I Member Since: 1970-71

Conference: American Athletic Conference (AAC)

AAC Member Since: 2023-24

AAC Ranking Among 32 Leagues (KenPom): 8th (2023), 8th (2022), 7th (2021), 7th (2020)

NCAA Tournament Bids: 11 (1977, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005)

Conference Titles: 5 (1977, 1988 in Sun Belt; 1992 in Metro; 1999, 2001 in Conference USA)

Conference 1st-Place Finishes: 5 (1977, 1978, 1988 in Sun Belt; 1995 in Metro; 2004 in CUSA)

Head Coach: Aaron Fearne (49, 1st season at Charlotte)

As A Player:  Western Wisconsin (1993-94), Mid-State (1994-95), Mayville State (1995-97), then professionally in Australia

Record as Head Coach (Through Feb. 5): 14-7 (.667) in 1st season

Previous Head Coaching Experience: in Australia; NBL1 North for Cairns Marlins (2006-09), NBL for Cairns Taipans (2009-18)

College AC Experience: Charlotte (2018-23)

Assistant Under: Ron Sanchez

2022-23 Record: 22-14, 9-11 (5th in 11-team CUSA)

2023-24 Preseason Prediction (Coaches): 13th in 14-team AAC

2023-24 Record (Through Feb. 5): 14-7, 8-1 AAC

2023-24 Midseason Ranking (KenPom): #103 nationally (5th in AAC)

Upcoming Schedule Highlights: at South Florida (2/6), UTSA (2/15), Wichita State (2/18), at Memphis (2/21)

Last fall, Charlotte entered its first year as a member of the American Athletic Conference, led by an interim head coach.

After capturing the school’s first-ever nonconference postseason title at the College Basketball Invitational last season, 49ers head coach Ron Sanchez left to become the associate head coach under Tony Bennett at Virginia, where Sanchez had worked as an assistant for Bennett from 2009-18.

The timing of Sanchez’s departure — early June — was extremely unusual and well outside the usual March/April coaching carousel timeframe, when college coaches tend to be much more receptive to job-change inquiries.

So, after five years as Sanchez’s assistant with the 49ers, Aaron Fearne was promoted to Charlotte’s interim head coach.

While losing their top two scorers (Brice Williams-Nebraska and Aly Khalifa-BYU) to the transfer portal, the 49ers retained three players who played 20-plus minutes per game.

Redshirt junior Lu’Cye Patterson is back to help orchestrate the offense. The 6-foot-2 guard began his career at Missouri State before landing in the Queen City last season. Through Feb. 5, Patterson was averaging a team-best 14.3 points per game.

Meanwhile, although the 49ers lost Sanchez to Virginia, they have a former Cavaliers player on their own roster. Croatian junior Igor Milicic Jr. is part of the Australian-born Fearne’s intentional effort to stretch the 49ers’ roster beyond international borders.

“We’ll definitely recruit internationally,” Fearne said, “and add that style of game to our program, which I think is a beautiful game of basketball, and try and get us to play that way.”

Milicic posted seven double-doubles in his first 21 games this season, including a 22-point, 13-rebound game in a recent victory at Tulane.

While its offense has improved steadily this season, Charlotte has shown even more promise defensively.

In four of their five wins, the 49ers allowed fewer than 60 points. More recently, they blanketed their opponents in a road triumph over UTSA (66-58) and home victories against North Texas (56-44) and East Carolina (67-52).

Charlotte knew it would be put to the test throughout the conference portion of its schedule, because the AAC is traditionally a much tougher league than Conference USA. Halfway through their 18-game AAC slate, though, the 49ers were 8-1 and locked in a first-place tie with both South Florida and a Top 25 Florida Atlantic team, which they beat head-to-head (70-68) on Jan. 6.

2023-24 Charlotte 49ers
(14-7, 8-1 AAC; through Feb. 5)


PG Lu’Cye Patterson*, r-Jr. — 33 mpg, 14 ppg, 4 rpg, 47% FG, 70% FT, 29% threes, 56/26 ATO, 5 blocks, 24 steals
(6-2/205); 2022 Missouri State transfer (starter); 2023 HM All-CUSA; Minneapolis, Minn.

Nik Graves, So. — 30 mpg, 10 ppg, 4 rpg, 45% FG, 82% FT, 33% threes, 61/21 ATO, 3 blocks, 20 steals
(6-3/185); mother, Nikki, a former 49ers star; Greensboro Day School; Durham, N.C.

Jackson Threadgill*, Sr. — 28 mpg, 6 ppg, 3 rpg, 37% FG, 73% FT, 27% threes, 25/10 ATO, 2 blocks, 14 steals
(6-6/200); 3-year starter for 49ers; Davidson Day School; Concord, N.C.

Igor Milicic*, Jr. — 31 mpg, 13 ppg, 8 rpg, 50% FG, 87% FT, 38% threes, 38/42 ATO, 27 blocks, 16 steals
(6-10/225); 2022 UVa transfer (reserve); 8 ppg, 4 rpg in 2022-23; Rovinj, Croatia

Dishon Jackson, r-So. — 26 mpg, 11 ppg, 5 rpg, 54% FG, 68% FT, 14% threes, 25/23 ATO, 22 blocks, 13 steals
(6-11/260); 2023 Washington State transfer (part-time starter); Oakland, Calif.

Key Reserves

PG Isaiah Folkes, Jr. — 19 mpg, 5 ppg, 3 rpg, 50% FG, 40% FT, 0% threes, 47/25 ATO, 1 block, 16 steals
(6-4/200); late-season 2022-23 starter; Middleburg Academy; Gainesville, Va.

F Robert Braswell IV, Gr. — 16 mpg, 7 ppg, 2 rpg, 46% FG, 64% FT, 36% threes, 3/11 ATO, 6 blocks, 4 steals
(6-7/205); 2021 Syracuse transfer (reserve); 2023 medical (thumb); Jacksonville, Fla.

Dean Reiber, r-Jr. — 17 mpg, 3 ppg, 2 rpg, 38% FG, 67% FT, 24% threes, 17/8 ATO, 6 blocks, 9 steals
(6-10/225); 2023 Rutgers transfer (reserve); Northwest Guilford HS; Greensboro, N.C.

*—returning starter (started at least 50% of current team’s games last season)

Charlotte 49ers
10-Year Snapshot

Season — Overall, League (Place), Postseason

2022-23 — 22-14, 9-11 CUSA (5th), CBI champion (Ron Sanchez)
2021-22 — 17-14, 10-8 CUSA (8th), no postseason (Ron Sanchez)
2020-21 — 9-16, 5-11 CUSA (11th), no postseason (Ron Sanchez)
2019-20 — 16-13, 10-8 CUSA (4th), no postseason (Ron Sanchez)
2018-19 — 8-21, 5-13 CUSA (13th), no postseason (Ron Sanchez)
2017-18 — 6-23, 2-16 CUSA (14th), no postseason (Mark Price)
2016-17 — 13-17, 7-11 CUSA (10th), no postseason (Mark Price)
2015-16 — 14-19, 9-9 CUSA (7th), no postseason (Mark Price)
2014-15 — 14-18, 7-11 CUSA (11th), no postseason (Alan Major)
2013-14 — 17-14, 7-9 CUSA (8th), no postseason (Alan Major)

*—conference champion

NOTE: Please visit the North Carolina Sports Network’s 2023-24 profiles and 10-year snapshots for all 19 Division One men’s basketball programs in North Carolina and all 15 Atlantic Coast Conference programs.

Appalachian State Mountaineers, Sun Belt Conference

Boston College Eagles, Atlantic Coast Conference

Campbell Camels, Coastal Athletic Association

Charlotte 49ers, American Athletic Conference

Clemson Tigers, Atlantic Coast Conference

Davidson Wildcats, Atlantic-10 Conference

Duke Blue Devils, Atlantic Coast Conference

East Carolina Pirates, American Athletic Conference

Elon Phoenix, Coastal Athletic Association

Florida State Seminoles, Atlantic Coast Conference

Gardner-Webb Runnin’Bulldogs, Big South Conference

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Atlantic Coast Conference

High Point Panthers, Big South Conference

Louisville Cardinals, Atlantic Coast Conference

Miami Hurricanes, Atlantic Coast Conference

NC Central Eagles, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

NC State Wolfpack, Atlantic Coast Conference

North Carolina Tar Heels, Atlantic Coast Conference

North Carolina A&T Aggies, Coastal Athletic Association

Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Atlantic Coast Conference

Pitt Panthers, Atlantic Coast Conference

Queens Royals, Atlantic Sun Conference

Syracuse Orange, Atlantic Coast Conference

UNC Asheville Bulldogs, Big South Conference

UNC Greensboro Spartans, Southern Conference

UNC Wilmington Seahawks, Coastal Athletic Association

Virginia Cavaliers, Atlantic Coast Conference

Virginia Tech Hokies, Atlantic Coast Conference

Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Atlantic Coast Conference

Western Carolina Catamounts, Southern Conference