During a rather hectic sports weekend, one of UNC’s signees for the 2019 class squared off against one of the best high school teams in the country. Armando Bacot and the IMG Academy took on Oak Hill Academy this past Sunday in a matchup that was supposed to also feature top-five prospect Cole Anthony. Unfortunately Cole suffered an injury prior to the game, but that didn’t stop us from getting a good look at what the Tar Heels can expect from Bacot this fall.
IMG Academy is loaded this year, as they have two other players that Roy Williams recruited heavily before they committed to other schools. Arizona commit Josh Green and Villanova commit Jeremiah Robinson-Earl were big in the 72-67 victory against Oak Hill, with Josh Green finishing the game with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists. Another crucial piece of their team is junior shooting guard Jaden Springer, who is on UNC’s radar but hasn’t received an offer so far. Springer finished the game with 16 points, 4 rebounds and an assist and shot 50% from the field.
Due to the balance of the team, Armando Bacot’s numbers aren’t as gaudy as we typically see from a high-profile recruit. However, that doesn’t mean that he was any less effective — he finished the game with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks in 31 minutes of play. He went 5-7 from the field, with one of those misses being in the form of an ill-advised perimeter jumper due to the shot clock expiring. The most impressive thing about his numbers is the fact that he was being guarded by four-star Illinois hard commit Kofi Cockburn, who not only matches Bacot in height, but is as solid as a brick wall. The other impressive takeaway about what he was able to do is that a majority of his points were against a zone defense, which Oak Hill deployed due to their star player not suiting up for the game.
The first thing that jumped out at me about Bacot’s game is that he is a good passer for a post player. He did a good job of making the right passes from the middle of the zone, and managed to get a couple of passes from baseline to baseline without turning the ball over. He did a good job of not forcing anything on offense, and so it made for some good opportunities to see how well he can help move the ball.
When he had his opportunities to score, Bacot did some pretty impressive things. He has a very nice jump shot in his arsenal, as was evident by a couple of 15-foot jumpers that he managed to hit. He also has quick feet, and so he was able to pull off a couple of really pretty spin moves against Kofi Cockburn. There wasn’t anything spectacular about what he did when he was shooting, but that’s meant in the best way possible — as previously stated, he let the game come to him, and when he had his opportunities he was able to get the job done for IMG.
Truth be told, the most impressive part of Armando Bacot’s game from IMG’s win was his defense. He forced a lot of bad shots from various players, and mainly made it hard for Cockburn to get much going when he was on the court. As good as his feet are on offense, he had just as impressive footwork on defense and was able to switch on ball screens without getting beat by the ball handler. One issue that was noticeable, however, is that Kofi Cockburn was able to push him around a couple of times in the post. From what I was able to gather, Bacot did lose quite a bit of weight, and so he may need to hit the gym hard once he gets to campus and will be able to do some pushing around of his own.
As far as weaknesses go, there wasn’t anything significant that jumped out in this game. Scouting reports state that he has some mechanical issues that he still needs to smooth out (simplifying his post moves, not a consistent free-throw shooter, etc.). However, when a player goes 5-7 with only one bad shot selection all game, it’s hard to notice any of these deficiencies. Hopefully we will get to see some more from him on the national stage in the near future before he arrives in Chapel Hill.
To sum things up, Armando Bacot looks every bit like what Carolina has been missing this year — a true center that is able to give his team a good option to get some easy shots and prevent the other team from doing a lot of damage in the paint. It cannot be understated how important his commitment to the Tar Heels is for the 2019-20 season, and he will undoubtedly give them some good minutes right out of the gate. The 2019 class definitely needs at least one or two more pieces, but landing Bacot was a home run for Roy Williams and his staff.