Armando Bacot returning to North Carolina?

Will Armando Bacot return to the UNC basketball program for his junior season?

Shortly after Hubert Davis was hired to assume the position of head coach at the University of North Carolina, rising sophomore center Armando Bacot announced that he’d be testing the NBA waters during the college basketball offseason.

Bacot, who was undoubtedly the Tar Heels’ best and most consistent player over the course of the 2020-21 season, announced on April 6 following discussions with Davis and former UNC head coach Roy Williams that he planned to go through the NBA Draft process for the opportunity to learn, work out and receive the necessary feedback to make an informed decision on his future.

Bacot, no doubt, made the frequently talked about “sophomore leap” that many UNC bigs have made over the years. He scored more points in year two, and shot the ball better — both from the floor and at the free throw line. He was a better offensive rebounder than he was a season ago, and committed fewer turnovers than he did as a freshman. But having said all of that, Bacot still has a ways to go as it pertains to being an NBA-ready player.

Bacot doesn’t have a ton of athletic ability, and he lacks versatility on both ends of the court. Offensively, he’s unable to stretch the floor due to his inability to hit shots from the outside. When North Carolina ran high-lows with Bacot in high-post area, defenses would often sag off of him and crowd the painted area to further limit the Tar Heels’ options offensively. Defensively, Bacot isn’t equipped to switch onto guards and wings, and is basically limited to guarding other post players. And despite his ability to block some shots on the defensive side of the ball, he’s not an elite rim protector by any means.

Statistics and skill set aside, Bacot simply seems like he’s more likely to hang around Chapel Hill for the foreseeable future rather than make the jump to the professional level. He’s been practicing with the team — and looking really good — in recent weeks, and been incredibly active and supportive over social media regarding the Tar Heels’ recruiting wins over the past few weeks. Even the photo on his Twitter profile is of his newly-appointed head coach Hubert Davis. So, while he may be looking to get feedback from NBA scouts and general managers this offseason, he seems poised to run it back with the Tar Heels at least one more time.

Bacot’s return to North Carolina may be the biggest question mark for the Tar Heels this offseason, and much of their success next season hangs in the balance, but it stands to reason that his best option is to continue working on his game at the collegiate level in preparation for a likely jump to the NBA in the summer of 2022.

Check back with Keeping It Heel for all the latest on Armando Bacot’s journey through the NBA Draft process, and everything UNC basketball.