Junior guard decides to leave Charlotte program

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After finishing the 2013-14 season with a 17-14 record (7-9 Conference USA), Charlotte enters the 2014-15 season with hopes of improving on those marks. Head coach Alan Major welcomes back an experienced backcourt led by senior Pierria Henry, and Florida transfer Braxton Ogbueze will help from a depth standpoint after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules.

One player whose role may have changed as a result of the number of guards capable of earning playing time was junior guard Shawn Lester, who averaged 11.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season despite making just one start. However Lester won’t factor into the 49ers’ plans, as it was announced Thursday that he’s decided to leave the program in order to pursue professional opportunities.

“Although we are saddened that Shawn will not be with us, we are fully supporting him and his family as he makes this transition,” Major said in the school release. “We thank him for his efforts, and he will be a Niner for life.”

In addition to Henry, who led the team in points, assists and steals in 2013-14, Charlotte returns Terrence Williams (10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Ivan Benkovic will return to the floor after sitting out all of last season with a back injury. Freshmen Torin Dorn Jr. and Keyshawn Woods will also look to compete for playing time.

Holding onto Lester would have given Charlotte an experienced option off the bench who’s proven that he can provide some extra scoring. But they do have the depth needed to account for his departure, even with the timing of the move being a bit peculiar.