Today we received the good news that everyone has been waiting for: junior big man Armando Bacot has announced that he is returning to UNC for his senior season. The first-team All-ACC big man is coming off of not only his personal best season, but one of the best seasons any UNC big man has ever had. He became the first person to log six double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament, and tied the NCAA season record (31) for double-doubles. The guy that he’s tied with? David Robinson. Seems like a resume of someone who should’ve won ACC POY, doesn’t it?
While I would love to go into a rant about how dumb award voting can be, the important thing is that Hubert Davis gets arguably his best player back for one more season. Bacot finished his junior season averaging 16.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game, and went 56.9% from the floor. Once the Heels entered the postseason, Bacot managed to log a double-double each and every game, including the two games of the ACC Tournament. Perhaps the most incredible part of all was that despite injuring his ankle in the Final Four game against Duke, he still managed to not only play in the game against Kansas, but finished the game with 15 points and 15 rebounds. We are left to wonder just how much more damage he could’ve done if he was not only healthy, but also didn’t injure himself again late in the game. I would’ve been devastated to see his Carolina career end on such a heartbreaking note, but it looks like he wants to run it back one more time in hopes of making another deep run in the tournament.
Bacot’s return to Chapel Hill is not only good because of just how good of a player he is, but it also quietly keeps frontcourt depth from being an issue. The Tar Heels do have two incoming freshmen centers in Jalen Washington and Will Shaver, but the problem is that without Bacot both players would have likely had to play at the same time a la Iron Five. With Bacot returning to the roster, Hubert Davis will have a bit more flexibility in how he manages minutes, and it also should give the freshmen an easier learning curve in the process. Not to mention both players will get to learn from Bacot, which who doesn’t want that?
Now that Bacot is coming back for his senior season, it’s going to be really hard for the Heels to not end up in a lot of preseason conversations. Everyone made the mistake of counting out the 2021-22 team, but it’s hard to imagine that anybody will make that mistake again. What do you think of Bacot’s announcement? Let us know in the comments below.