By R.L. Bynum
It’s been widely expected that Armando Bacot will return for his senior season and he confirmed on social media Wednesday morning that he’ll return.
With NIL (name, image and likeness) money out there to be earned, it always made sense for Bacot to come back since he likely will earn more money than he would with a two-way NBA contract, a G League contract or playing in Europe.
The lure of possibly winning a national title with Coach Hubert Davis was also huge.
“This year’s experience showed me that I did not want to give up the chance to do it again next season,” Bacot said in a video posted on social media. “On the court, we got so close this year. I know there are no guarantees. But I want the opportunity to play in those big games, to keep Carolina on the national stage and to have the chance to do what Coach Davis has talked about since his first day on the job — put another banner in the Smith Center.”
Bacot is one of two Tar Heels in the last 50 seasons and eighth all-time to average a double-double in points and rebounds.
“Armando is the perfect example of what a Carolina player strives to be,” Davis said. “He has excelled at the highest level as a player, in the classroom and in the community. I loved hearing the news yesterday that he made the Academic All-ACC team after the season he had, which wasn’t just good, and not just great, it was historic. I felt he was the best player in ACC and the best big man in the country.
Bacot joined Billy Cunningham and Antawn Jamison as the only Tar Heels with 1,000 rebounds in three seasons.
“He’s coming back for his senior season for several reasons,” Davis said. “One, he loves this place. Two, he has the desire to win a national championship. Getting to the final game and getting so close lit a fire inside of him to achieve that goal more than ever. He feels he can still get better and improve on parts of his game to put himself in a position to have a long and successful NBA career. And he feels this is the best place for him to do that. He loves his teammates, this university and his community, and we love him.”
By returning to a team that has the potential to return to the Final Four, he gets another opportunity to earn ACC player-of-the-year honors many thought he deserved this past season, which would put his number in the rafters.
“My Carolina story isn’t finished this year. Next season starts right now,” said Bacot, who sells T-shirts at this website.
Bacot led the 29–10 Tar Heels in scoring (16.3 points per game), field-goal percentage (56.9%), rebounding (13.1 per game) and blocks (65).
“The University of North Carolina has been great to me,” Bacot said. “Getting the full Tar Heel experience this year with the fans and the big wins and celebrations is something I’ll never forget. The chance I received to wear a North Carolina jersey, to play for the name on the front is special.
“I look forward to coming back this summer, playing with the current guys and teaching them the same things that we were taught about the former players. That’s my responsibility as part of the Carolina family. But I’m not ready to do that just yet,” he said.
He led the nation with an NCAA-record 31 double-doubles and led the ACC in rebounding and offensive rebounds (4.2 per game). He was the first player to produce six double-doubles in an NCAA tournament.
Bacot honors this season
NCAA All-Final Four
NCAA All-East Regional
NCAA East Regional Most Outstanding Player
Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award finalist
USA Today Third-Team All-America
First-team USBWA All-District
Photo via @UNC_Basketball