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UNC Basketball: Armando Bacot’s wise decision

Rival fans mocked Armando for coming back for his bonus fifth year. Who’s laughing now?

Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Mission Tiger with Armando Bacot... Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes®

Carolina ops have taken their shots at Armando Bacot for returning to Chapel Hill for a fifth season. “Why wouldn’t he?” they’d ask mockingly, “He wasn’t going to get drafted.”

Well, that’s not necessarily his fault.

The NBA has changed dramatically since UNC’s heyday under Roy Williams. Teams do not covet big men who can carve out space, dominate the post, and grab rebounds. They prioritize spacing and shooting, something that Armando Bacot — a picture perfect fit for a Roy Williams double-post offense — does not excel at.

Let’s say that Bacot decided that four years was enough, and he’d throw his hat in the ring just to go ahead and begin his professional career. Well, draft night was a cold and lonely place for his peers:

That’s a lot of proven college basketball talent that all 30 NBA teams said “No thank you” to. These guys aren’t chumps. You’re looking at All-Americans, a Final Four MOP, and a lot of points and rebounds in the history books. And Bacot has produced right along with them.

Bacot is bigger than all of these players, making him a plausible starting center size-wise. His rebounding numbers are just a hair lower than rebounding monster Tshiebwe’s. And his points aren’t as high as his peers, but that has a lot to do with how UNC played last season. One could argue that not giving Bacot more touches/shots is what cost Carolina a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

These comparisons are moot, though. None of these players got drafted. Timme has an Exhibit 10 deal with Milwaukee, while Tshiebwe and Sanogo have two-way deals with the Pacers and Bulls, respectively.

Now, that doesn’t mean these players are garbage. Smart teams will make smart moves. The Miami Heat went to the Finals this year with seven former undrafted players on their roster. But the odds are long and the money is short.

Speaking of money, Armando Bacot continues to collect NIL deals while being beloved in Chapel Hill. If you had the choice between busing in North Dakota to play in empty G-League arenas or living high on the hog with Carolina, making more money and possible getting your MBA, what would you choose?

I’d say Bacot made the smart decision.