CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina big man Armando Bacot announced on Monday that he will return to school for his junior season. All signs had pointed to the 6-foot-10 Virginia native being back since he entered his name into the NBA Draft on April 6 but did not hire an agent, which allowed for his return.
UNC head coach Hubert Davis stated multiple times since being hired that he expected Bacot back next season and Bacot has also been in Chapel Hill working out with the team and playing pick up. Davis expects Bacot to have a huge season for UNC in 2021-22.
“I’m ecstatic,” Davis said in a statement released by the school on Monday. “Number one, I am really happy he went through the process. We completely support that. We want our guys to have two basketball goals. One is to have the experience of cutting down the nets and being the last team standing on that final Monday night of the season. We also want them to reach all their dreams and goals, and their dreams and goals are to play in the NBA. We 100 percent supported Armando’s pursuit to see where he stood right now in terms of going to the NBA, and we support that for all of our players.
“I’m thankful Armando got an opportunity to work out with some teams and he played off-the-charts great. As much as I am pleased that he was able to go through the process and flourish in that process, I am just as ecstatic that he is coming back to Carolina. I recruited him in high school, helped coach him the last two seasons and couldn’t ask for anything better than to be around him as a head coach. He’s our team leader, our captain, he’s worked extremely hard, he’s our leading returning scorer and rebounder, and for us to have a chance next year we need to have someone like Armando.”
Bacot earned third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in the 2020-21 season for leading UNC in scoring (12.3 ppg), field goal percentage (62.8) and rebounding (7.8) and was tied for first in blocked shots (26). Bacot’s field goal percentage ranks eighth in UNC single-season history. His strong close to the season moved him past Sam Perkins (62.6%, ’80-81), Brad Daugherty (62.5%, ’84-85) and Antawn Jamison (62.4%, ’95-96) on the all-time list. Bacot led the Tar Heels in scoring a team-high 10 times and posted seven double-doubles this season after managing 11 in 2019-20.
“I can’t tell you how much better Armando is going to be next year,” Davis said in a Rams Club Tar Heel Tour video. “He was fantastic for us. He led the team in rebounding and scoring last year. I look for him to be ACC Player of the Year next year. He’s that good. And he’s really working hard on his ball-handling, really working hard on being able to be a player out on the perimeter.”
In a podcast interview with Jon Rothstein, Davis said that Bacot is going to have “unbelievable, fantastic junior season.” Davis has stated that Bacot will benefit from a stylistic change in what UNC will do on offense. Davis has prioritized spacing and shooting, which will open up the court for big men like Bacot to operate and for UNC’s slashers to get into the lane to score.
“With (Bacot) in the lineup, we have a chance to win a national championship.” Davis told WCHL’s Art Chansky this offseason.