The 2022-23 men’s basketball season was a disappointment both from a team point-of-view, and by individual accomplishments. Perhaps the Tar Heels were given too much respect from preseason prognosticators—they were an 8-seed in the Tournament after all. Any unbiased UNC fan would say that was a fair reflection on the season they had. But we did expect a lot from certain players, especially Armando Bacot. He was the preseason ACC player of the year with an overwhelming 82 votes (2nd place went to Isaiah Wong, who actually won the award).
Now that we know Armando Bacot is coming back, what chance does he have of turning his super senior season into one that will get his jersey hung in the rafters with the rest of Carolina’s immortal legends? There are five ways to do so. Let’s look at them and determine how likely it is for Armando Bacot to hang his jersey in that manner.
- First or Second Team All-America:
If Armando can stay healthy, score consistently, and rebound the way he does with two working ankles, this avenue is definitely open. The only thing that could derail him (other than poor performance) is the weight that voters give to the ACC compared to other conferences. The ACC is consistently disrespected team-wise, so what would prevent voters from voting for a center with similar statistics on a B1G or SEC team?
- ACC Player of the Year:
This is the most likely path for Bacot. Hubert Davis is no doubt scouring the transfer portal for guards and wings that can make three shots. Carolina needs shooters, not just to make the offense work (this season’s 31.2% was a steep drop-off from last season’s 36.2%), but to give Bacot the space he needs to dominate in the paint.
How many times did we see Bacot double and triple teamed in the post? How many times did we force passes into him when he was already about to get trapped? How many nonsense charges were called on him because of a sneaky second defender popping up out of nowhere because a corner shooter didn’t need to be covered?
Too many times!!!
If RJ Davis’s finger heals this summer and he picks up where he left off at the end of this season, D’Marco Dunn starts shooting like he did in high school, and a transfer wing player that is more offensively inclined than Leaky Black surround Armando, we might see something cook in Chapel Hill. If so, I really like Bacot’s chances of winning ACC player of the year.
- MVP of a national championship winning team:
Knowing nothing about what the team will look like, or what other title challengers will look like due to transfer portal madness, it’s a fool’s errand to predict team performance in the preseason. It’s the wild, wild west out here. Let’s learn from this season’s mistakes and temper expectations.
- Most outstanding player on a Final Four team:
Same rules apply for the MVP of a national championship team. Armando Bacot did get a double-double in every tournament game he played last season, so in the event UNC gets to the championship game and loses, but Bacot puts up god-mode numbers, maybe the chances are slightly higher than the previous bracket.
- Gold medalist at the Olympics:
If Bacot’s traditional big-man skillset isn’t ideally suited to the modern NBA, it’s thrice as unlikely he’ll get picked up for the Olympic team. International basketball is even more spaced and puts a premium on bigs that can pick-and-pop, run, and shoot. Bacot’s chances of making the USA team are just slightly higher on mine. Just.
Focus needs to be on NCAA basketball.
Do you think Armando will get his jersey in the rafters after the season? How will he do it? Let us know in the comments.