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UNC Basketball: Junior Grades

This junior was a tour de force during the Tar Heels’ run to the national championship game.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-National Championship-Kansas vs North Carolina Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels had four juniors on their 2021-22 roster. Transfer Justin McKoy was reviewed as one of the newcomers, and walk-ons Jackson Watkins and Duwe Farris finished with a combined 13 minutes last season.

That leaves one junior to review, and what a season it was for this Tar Heel.

Armando Bacot became a Carolina legend this year. The good news is Bacot is not finished writing his story- he is returning for his senior year.

Last season’s turning point was the embarrassing loss against Pitt. That defeat put UNC at 18-8 and slipping off the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Before that loss, Carolina’s season was a roller coaster. The inconsistency of the team overshadowed the impressive season Bacot had up to that point.

In those first 25 games, Bacot was averaging 16.6 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, including 19 double-doubles. Bacot had 10 straight double-doubles, the most of his career, between the December 14 win versus Furman and the January 24 win over Virginia Tech.

Don’t forget that in early January, Bacot had back-to-back 29-point games, which remain his career highs for scoring. His 29 points and 22 rebounds versus Virginia on January 8 is Bacot’s highest combined scoring and rebounding effort.

Bacot was in the hunt for ACC Player of the Year, but that conversation was dampened by the team’s overall performance up to that point.

But everything changed for Carolina and Bacot after February 16.

After that game in which the Pitt head coach called UNC soft, the Tar Heels went on to win 11 of the next 13 games during the most important part of the season.

There is no doubt that Bacot took that personally. After Bacot put up a lowly seven points and eight rebounds versus Pitt, the junior tallied 12 double-doubles in those final 13 games.

From mid-February to the last Monday of the college basketball season, Bacot rewrote the UNC, ACC, and NCAA record books.

  • In the first game of the ACC Tournament, Bacot broke Brice Johnson’s single season Carolina record for double-doubles with his 24th of the season.
  • After UNC’s NCAA First Round win over Marquette, Bacot broke Brice Johnson’s single season Carolina record for total rebounds in one season. By the end of the NCAA Tournament, Bacot exceeded Johnson’s rebounding total by 95 rebounds.
  • In Carolina’s East Regional Final win over St. Peter’s, Bacot’s 22 rebounds tied Tyler Zeller for the most rebounds by a Tar Heel in a NCAA Tournament game, and also passed Tim Duncan for the most rebounds in a single season in ACC history.
  • UNC’s Final Four win over Duke was Bacot’s 30th double-double of the season, passing Duncan for the most in a single season in ACC history.
  • With 15 points and 15 rebounds in the National Championship, Bacot became the first player in NCAA Tournament history to record double-doubles in all six games.

Bacot enters the 2022-23 season just 219 rebounds shy of Tyler Hansbrough’s career record and needs only 11 more double-doubles to eclipse Billy Cunningham’s program record.

Beyond these impressive stats, Bacot displayed the spirit of a warrior after a rolled ankle late in the Final Four game against the Blue Devils.

After being helped off the floor, Bacot returned until fouling out with 46 seconds left in the game.

Bacot was riding around in a golf cart on the eve of the National Championship, and had a visible limp. But this is what Bacot had to say about his injury:

My right leg would have to be cut off for me not to play.

Nothing would keep Bacot from playing on that Monday night, and his Herculean effort put the Tar Heels on the brink of another championship. Bacot finished the NCAA Tournament with 15.3 points and 16.5 rebounds per game.

Below are Bacot’s overall averages from the 2021-22 season:

Armando Bacot 2021-22 Averages

Armando Bacot Games Points Average Rebounding Average Assists Average Blocks Average Field Goal Percentage Free Throw Percentage Effective Field Goal Percentage
Armando Bacot Games Points Average Rebounding Average Assists Average Blocks Average Field Goal Percentage Free Throw Percentage Effective Field Goal Percentage
2021-22 39 16.3 13.1 1.5 1.9 56.9 67 57

What more can you say about Bacot’s season?

Grade: A+

Comment below with your favorite Armando Bacot moments from the 2021-22 season.