UNC Basketball: Armando Bacot a fourth team All-American?

UNC basketball’s Armando Bacot is ranked behind more than a dozen other players in Dick Vitale’s 2021-22 preseason All-American list.

Armando Bacot returns to North Carolina in 2021 for what should be his best collegiate season yet. Bacot, who established himself as the Tar Heels’ most consistent and reliable scoring option a season ago, enters his junior campaign as an early favorite for all-conference honors and a contender for ACC Player of the Year.

That comes after a season in which he averaged 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 63 percent from the floor. All three of those led his team, as did his seven double-doubles and 10 games with 10 rebounds or more. Not only that, but Bacot’s production came on considerably less minutes than fellow starters Caleb Love, Leaky Black and Garrison Brooks.

Now, Bacot will have the opportunity to improve on his solid second season with a new-look group of Tar Heels that should be able to spread out the floor and open up the post. That’s thanks, in part, to the somewhat differing offensive style of play that we’ll see from first-year head coach Hubert Davis — made possible by a handful of players on the roster that can knock down shots from beyond the arc.

A pair of those players, Dawson Garcia and Brady Manek, joined the Tar Heels this past offseason via the NCAA transfer portal. Both should be able to give Bacot all kinds of space to work in the paint, and help eliminate double-teams and over-crowding that he had to deal with a season ago. Sharpshooting Kerwin Walton should be able help with that, too, along with improved shooting from Caleb Love and R.J. Davis.

ESPN’s Dick Vitale apparently took notice of Bacot’s sophomore season in Chapel Hill, as he recently named the standout UNC center to his preseason fourth team All-American squad. That’s higher than any other player in the ACC not named Buddy Boeheim, who Vitale believes is a first team All-American this year. It’s also ahead of the only other ACC player on his five-team list, as Duke’s Mark Williams landed on the fifth team.

We’ll get our first real look at Bacot this season when the Tar Heels face off with Loyola at the Dean Smith Center on November 9.

Check back with Keeping It Heel for all the latest on Armando Bacot, and the UNC basketball program.