DENVER — Charles Webb is listed as a player/manager on the University of Denver’s basketball roster, but Pioneers coach Joe Scott wants to make a clarification.
The “manager” part has been redacted.
The former Erie guard, now a junior with the Pioneers, is simply a Division I-basketball player with no qualifiers. It began as a grassroots campaign by the 5-foot-5 Webb just to be around the team. It has resulted in a fulltime roster spot on an increasingly successful mid-major squad that finished the week 15-8, including a lofty 11-2 mark in the Western Athletic Conference.
“I told them when I got here that I wanted to do anything to help the team get better,” said Webb, who gradated from Erie in 2010. “Coach said he’d give me a shot, but I’d have to work my way onto the team.”
In a process he termed “slowly but surely,” Webb earned his spot. As a freshman, he would help at practice with both basketball and managerial duties. He soon earned a jersey, but it had no number on it. He eventually earned a locker, a nameplate, and yes, a number. He now wears No. 22.
Webb didn’t play as a freshman or sophomore, although he was on the bench playing the part of a sponge, absorbing every tidbit of high-level basketball. This season, he has appeared in five games. He even recorded his first points as a college player against Southern Utah on Dec. 21. It was a pull-up jumper, which had an added personal significance because his parents were in the stands at Magness Arena.
It was the quintessential “I’ve arrived” moment after two seasons on the bench.
“Last year, I just wasn’t good enough,” Webb said. “I’ve kept working hard, and everything has come into fruition.”
Webb understands his limitations. He calls his listed height of 5-5 as “generous” and he insists he might be closer to 5-3. Told he looks every bit 5-5, he said: “It’s all the shoes.”
But he harbors no ambitions of suddenly transforming into an NBA prospect. A two-time member of the all-academic team when DU resided in the Sun Belt Conference, Webb has different career ambitions. He is aiming to pursue a job in business, perhaps in consulting or in business law.
As a college player, his goal remains steadfast: doing anything to make the Pioneers better, whether it’s on the court, helping with a drill at practice or by helping teammates get extra work.
“He brings consistency to the team, because he’s here every day and he’s here early,” Pioneers starting forward Chris Udofia said. “You can get good shots up after practice and he’s always there to rebound and he never complains. He’s a part of the team, he’s one of the guys.
“It’s nice to have a guy like that, where even though he doesn’t get super minutes, he’s still dedicated to the team.”
Webb, who also is a classically trained vocalist, plays the viola and speaks fluent Spanish, was one of three brothers to play at Erie. Twins Chase and Chad were a year younger (graduating in 2011), with Chase averaging 21.7 points as a senior. Although the brothers are both solid players, they have gone to college solely to pursue their studies, Chase at St. Mary’s and Chad at the University of Colorado.
Charles was the most ambitious of the brothers to keep his basketball dreams alive, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“When he got here, I told him, ‘Hey just go out there and help in any way you can,'” Scott said. “I told him not to concentrate on whether he’s on the team or whether he’s playing, just be a contributor. When you act that way, good things happen.
“All that’s happened in the three years is he’s turned himself into a valued, important member of this program. He’s one of the most selfless guys I’ve ever been around.”
Altruistic to the core, Webb has volunteered for the American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity.
Scott said Webb’s ascension to the roster can be explained in three benchmarks. One: Getting a uniform. Two: Getting into a game. Three: Scoring in a game.
“I thank God every day,” Webb said. “I’m living a dream. It’s just a blessing.”
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