College Basketball Preview: Charlotte enters final season in Conference USA

The 49ers were 10-8 in conference play last season

Forward Aly Khalifa and the 49ers enter their final season in Conference USA before Charlotte jumps to the American Athletic Conference. (Michael Woods / AP Photo)

Hoping to build on their highest win total since they joined Conference USA back in 2013, the 49ers and fifth-year coach Ron Sanchez will try to rise out of the middle of the pack before moving to the American Athletic Conference next season.

2021-22 record: 17-14 (10-8 Conference USA)

Top players: Six-foot-11 power forward Aly Khalifa enters his second season in Charlotte after averaging 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds last season. The junior guard from Egypt should be able to improve both those numbers. Jackson Threadgill is the other returning starter from last year.

Key additions: Virginia transfer Igor Milicic Jr. arrives with three years of eligibility left. The 6-foot-10 Croatian played in the German Pro B League in 2020-21. Transfers Josh Aldrich (USC Upstate), Montre Gipson (Tarleton State) and Lu’Cye Patterson (Missouri State) all join the 49ers this season.

Departed players: Senior guard Jahmir Young, who led the team in points (19.6), rebounds (5.9) and assists (3.7) last season, transferred to Maryland. Starting guards Austin Butler and Clyde Trapp both graduated.

Expectations: Despite coming off a winning season with a winning conference record, the Niners have been picked by C-USA coaches to finish ninth in the conference.