The hope of many Tar Heel fans is that the 2021-22 Tar Heel team that just made a run to the national championship game and fell short to the Kansas Jayhawks will, like many before them have, run it back for a shot at redemption this upcoming season.
The first of the four major dominos that had to fall in the scenario fell on Wednesday afternoon when junior forward Armando Bacot announced that he will be returning for the 2022-23 season. Via a video that he posted on his Twitter page, Bacot said “this year’s experience showed me that I do not want to miss the chance to do it again next season.”
His return will give the Tar Heels back one of the best big men in the country and one of the most underrated players in ACC history for next season. This past season, Bacot led the Tar Heels in points per game (16.3), rebounds per game (13.1), field goal percentage (56.9%) and blocks per game (1.7). He broke the school and conference records for most double-doubles in a season and finished tied for the most in the history of college basketball with 31, matching the mark put up by David Robinson at Navy back in the 1985-86 season. During the team’s tournament run, he became the first player ever to record a double-double in all six games and had fifteen or more rebounds in each of the final five games of the season.
Bacot’s return should mean that next year’s Tar Heel squad will be led by one of the favorites to take home the John R. Wooden Award, an award given annually to the best player in college basketball. At the least, it gives the Tar Heels the preseason favorite to win conference player of the year in the ACC, an award that he should have taken home this season.
Bacot’s return is the starting of an important string of decisions that will have a major reflection on what the 2022-23 Tar Heels expectations are. Leaky Black, R.J. Davis and Caleb Love have yet to make their intentions public, but there seems to be a feeling throughout fans and the media that the Tar Heels have a good chance of getting all three of those guys back.
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