Charlotte’s Interim Head Men’s Basketball Aaron Fearne has announced his staff for the 2023-24 season.
Vic Sfera and Kevin Smith return to the 49ers as assistant men’s basketball coaches, joined by the new arrival of Conner Henry, who was previously announced by Coach Fearne on August 3 as an assistant coach for the program. Byron Dinkins will continue as Director of Player Development and John Marshall will continue as the Associate Head Men’s Basketball Athletic Trainer. Michael “Willy” Wilmot will transition to Director of Basketball Operations and Special Assistant to the Head Coach, while Miracle Pearsall will transition to the role of Assistant Director of Basketball Operations and Creative Media.
The Niners welcome Patrick Lewis and Daniel Blaze to the men’s basketball staff. Patrick Lewis will be the Director of Men’s Basketball Sports Performance and Daniel Blaze will be the Director of Scouting. John Kitoko and Stephen Edoka join the 49ers as graduate assistants.
“I’m very excited about the staff we’ve assembled as we prepare for our transition into the American Athletic Conference,” said Coach Fearne. “This is a versatile group that has the experience and unique qualities and perspectives to benefit our players and the program. More importantly, everyone on our staff is fully committed to ensuring that our student-athletes grow into the best versions of themselves on and off the court and that was a priority shaping this staff.”
The 2023-24 campaign will be Sfera’s sixth season and Smith’s second season with the 49ers. Both coaches were instrumental in helpinglead Charlotte to its most wins (22) since 2000-01. The Niners also claimed its first postseason tournament title in program history when they won four games in five days in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the College Basketball Invitational last year.
Henry served as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic in 2015-16 and was most recently the head coach of the Adelaide 36ers in Australia. Among his many accomplishments, Henry was named the Dennis Johnson NBA D-League Coach of the Year in 2013-14.
Dinkins has served as Director of Player Development at Charlotte since May 2018 and the 2023-24 campaign marks his sixth year. The former 49er had a legendary playing career at Charlotte from 1985-1989 and in 2022, the Charlotte, N.C. native was announced as a member of the second class in the Charlotte Athletics Hall of Fame. He is set to be inducted in Fall 2023.
Marshall joined the 49ers Sports Medicine staff in July 2019 and the 2023-24 season will be his fifth year at Charlotte providing athletic healthcare for the men’s basketball program. He also serves as a clinical preceptor for the UNC Charlotte Master’s of Athletic Training Education Program and before joining the Green & White, he spent four years as an assistant athletic trainer at Gardner-Webb.
Wilmot will take over the role of Director of Basketball Operations & Special Assistant to the Head Coach this season after originally joining the staff as Director of Scouting in September 2021. In his new role, Wilmot will assist with basketball related projects and be in charge of off-the-court logistics for the 49ers men’s basketball program that include team travel, budget oversight, and the organization of staff and team events. Prior to joining the 49ers, Wilmot was a Graduate Assistant for Florida State University from 2019 to 2021.
“I am extremely grateful to Coach Fearne and the rest of the staff for entrusting me with this opportunity,” said Wilmot. “I look forward to the coming season and am excited to see what we can accomplish. Go Niners!”
Pearsall has been with the Charlotte Men’s Basketball program since November 2021. She moves into her new role after serving the last year and a half as the Recruiting and Operations Assistant for the Niners. As part of her duties, Pearsall will assist in off-the-court logistics for the 49ers men’s basketball program and she will coordinate all official recruiting visits with the 49ers’ coaching staff. Additionally, she acts as the team’s official photographer and in-house graphic designer and helps shape the creative direction of the men’s basketball program.
“I am so excited to continue shaping the great culture that Charlotte has and to continue working with this amazing staff,” said Pearsall. “I thank Coach Fearne for his unwavering support and believing in me to extend this opportunity.”
This will be Lewis’ first season in the Queen City after serving as the Director of Men’s Basketball Performance at Jacksonville University for two seasons. Lewis obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s in applied Physiology and Kinesiology from the University of Florida. He held the position of Men’s Golf Strength Coach and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach of Men’s Basketball for the Gators from November 2019 until joining Jacksonville.
“Patrick comes to Charlotte with a very impressive resume & body of work,” said Coach Fearne. “He has worked for & with some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the nation and I am ecstatic that he has decided to bring that knowledge here to Charlotte. I cannot wait to see how our student-athletes develop under his tutelage and Patrick’s hard work and dedication will be a big addition to the program.
Daniel “Danny” Blaze will begin his first season at Charlotte. In his role, Blaze will be responsible for compiling video for team and opponent scouts, along with game film from each 49er contest. Blaze held various coaching titles in his four-plus years at Charlotte Christian. He was most recently the Varsity Boys’ Basketball Assistant Coach and Junior Varsity Boys’ Basketball Head Coach from 2021 to 2023. Additionally, for the past three years, Blaze has served as a Basketball Skill Development Trainer for No Fails Basketball in Charlotte, N.C. With No Fails, he created game-like workouts and repetitions, working alongside athletes from the NBA, NBA G-League, NCAA, and high school to international.
“I am thrilled to welcome Danny to the staff,” said Coach Fearne. “He has a keen eye and a youthful and energetic spirit that is hard to come by and has helped develop athletes at every level which will no doubt benefit this program.”
The Charlotte Men’s Basketball staff is completed with the additions of John Kitoko and Stephen Edoka, a pair of graduate assistants. Kitoko is a former men’s basketball student-athlete and team manager at Charlotte. He appeared in 20 games in the 2018-19 season and he earned his bachelor’s from the university in 2020. Since graduating, Kitoko has served in various capacities at Catawba College, including as Director of Player Development and most recently as an assistant coach in 2023. Edoka is a graduate and former-student athlete of Limestone University. He also played college basketball at UNC Asheville for two seasons and he is a product of nearby Concord First Assembly, where he was a two-time all-conference and all-state selection.