Charlotte WBB column

The Charlotte women's basketball team on the court during a game against Southern Mississippi on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

It’s a new era for the Charlotte women’s basketball team as they begin a new year without star play Octavia Jett-Wilson. Last year ended in glory, with the squad putting up one of, if not its best, season in history. 

49er’s 2021 season in review

  • 22-10 record
  • 15-3 conference record
  • No. 1 in Conference USA (C-USA)
  • Made NCAA tournament

In the 2020 season, Charlotte struggled outside of conference play. They went 1-7 in non-conference games, but when it came time to face C-USA opponents, it was a whole new team, going 9-5. This led to a mediocre 10-12 finish.

Claiming the 49er squad had a bounce-back is an understatement. They followed up their 10-12 season with a 22-10 finish and claimed the conference championship. 

Player additions/losses

  • Addition: Tracey Hueston, Foward/Illinois
  • Addition: Keanna Rembert, Foward/Pitt
  • Loss: Octavia Jett-Wilson, Guard
  • Loss: Cali Konek, Guard
  • Loss: Molina Williams, Foward
  • Loss: KeKe McKinney, Foward

The 49ers lost McKinney and Jett-Wilson from graduation over the off-season. 2021-22 C-USA Player of the Year, Jett-Wilson, left a significant hole on the Charlotte squad.

Additionally, the loss of McKinney leaves Charlotte without their star defensive player, as she was the C-USA 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year. 

Over the offseason, Jett-Wilson went pro, signing with Greece. She finished All-time program leader in games played (143), games started (123), minutes played (4,157), second all-time in free throws made (490) and third on the all-time scoring list (1,812).

To help with the blow of losing Jett-Wilson, Charlotte brought in Hueston. She transferred to Charlotte from Pitt, a power 5 team. She played at Pitt for two years.

The other transfer, Rambert, who in her senior year of high school averaged just over 20 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game and 2.1 blocks, transferred to Charlotte from Illinois. She did not see any time at Illinois, transferring before she could have a chance to play. 

Charlotte 49ers coaching staff overview

  • Head Coach: Cara Consuegra
  • Associate Head Coach: Cait Wetmore-Banx
  • Associate Coach/Recruiting Coordinator: Nicole Woods
  • Assistant coach: Ciara Gregory

The coaching staff of the 49ers saw no significant changes over the offseason. 

Consuegra returned to the helm of Charlotte after a big season last year. In the 2022 season, Consuegra won C-USA coach of the year as she led the 49ers to the NCAA tournament. 

Over the offseason, Consuegra announced the promotions of Wetmore and Woods. 

Charlotte 49ers conference awards watch

Mikayla Boykin, Defensive Player of the Year

Boykin transferred to Charlotte from Duke ahead of the 2021-22 season and became a prime defense threat for the 49ers. Her 53 steals last season put her at No. 16 among all C-USA players. She also added 17 blocks and 166 rebounds, second in both stats. 

While she sat second in both stats, she trailed McKinney, the last year’s conference Defensive Player of the Year. Boykin has a lot of improvement to see if she wants to win the award, but she certainly has the potential.

Cara Consuegra, Coach of the Year

Claiming Consuegra has a shot at Coach of the Year is no hot take. She won the award last year, and if she rebuilds the team back to its 2021-22 shape despite losing Jett-Wilson, Consuegra will be a shoo-in for the achievement again. 

The biggest game on the schedule

Charlotte’s biggest and most formidable matchup on their schedule is the 49er’s third matchup of the season. On Nov. 16, Charlotte is set to face NC State. 

If NC State looks as they did in the 2021-22 season, this will be a true test of Charlotte’s strength this year. NC State finished 32-4 overall and 17-1 in conference matches.

If Charlotte can pull off the upset if NC State is favored, which is likely, that early in the season, that would inspire a ton of confidence in the team this season. 

Charlotte season prediction: Best-case scenario

While some may be writing off conference champions already with the losses of some big names, they forget that Charlotte has other players who can step up into more significant roles. While Consuegra does not see anyone replacing these players alone, she has high hopes that a few players playing more essential parts could fill that hole left behind with a combined effort.

The 49ers made the NCAA tournament in the previous season due to efficient team play. With much of the 2021-22 team returning, it is not a stretch to say the best-case scenario for the 49ers is conference champions and even a return to the NCAA tournament. 

Charlotte season prediction: worst-case scenario

The worst-case scenario for Charlotte would be failing to adjust to a team without Jett-Wilson and McKinney. As previously mentioned, these two leave big holes on both sides of the ball, and if the 49ers fail to fill these roles, they are in from a significant fall from glory and failing to finish near the top of C-USA will be the least of their worries.

Charlotte season prediction for 2022

  • 17-12 record
  • 4th in C-USA(12-8 conference record)
  • Playoff result: Lose in Quarterfinals