UNC Basketball: 'Senior Night,' a bittersweet yearly occasion

As the UNC basketball program prepares to celebrate its annual 'Senior Night' on Tuesday, it's a reminder of what a bittersweet occasion it is.

Georgia Tech v North Carolina
Georgia Tech v North Carolina / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

Ah, 'Senior Night,' one of my most dreaded days of the entire year.

Let me explain.

Fans of the UNC basketball program know the drill. Every year, we celebrate the seniors (or graduate students) who have worn the Carolina Blue. In most cases, the players being honored have accomplished quite a lot during their time in Chapel Hill, as the rich history of the program is always on display.

There's been plenty of special 'Senior Night' moments that we've all been so fortunate to witness as Tar Heels fans. Who could forget Marcus Paige's speech as he stood on midcourt addressing the Carolina faithful?!

I'd be lying to you if I said I still don't tear up from time to time watching that video on replay.

'Senior Night' is a harsh reminder that all good things must come to an end. We all would have loved to have watched the likes of Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, Eric Montross, Sean May, Tyler Hansbrough, Joel Berry, and many others compete for the Tar Heels for many years, but that's not how this type of thing works.

I don't dread the actual day of 'Senior Night'. Any day that the UNC basketball plays is a good day in my book. What I dread is the fact that a chapter of Carolina Basketball is coming to an end, and let me tell ya, I absolutely HATE change.

Life changes in the blink of an eye. Four (or five) years fly by so fast, but as fans, we're so fortunate that many amazing players have come through the program and elected to stay for multiple seasons. In the current landscape of college basketball, not every program can claim that notion.

This group is a little different for me, given that my fandom changed during their tenure on campus. I went from a die-hard fan who would talk my family's ears off about the Tar Heels to someone who has a platform like this to share my thoughts with the team we all love so dearly.

I felt like a freshman working his way up the depth chart. From a contributor to being promoted to Site Expert, I often correlate my growth as a writer to the guys who I've covered for years.

We've experienced many ups and downs together, from a magical 2022 national championship game run to not making the NCAA tournament just a year later. Still, one thing always remained the same: my love for the program and the passion they've provided me to write about everything they do, both on the court and through the absolutely crazy new world of NIL.

Two guys who share that same love are potentially playing in their final home games on Tuesday night: Armando Bacot and RJ Davis.

Bacot 100000% is set to close out his collegiate career in a few weeks (are we sure we can't get him another year of eligibility?!) as he has truly defined what it means to be a Tar Heel. Sure, people try to discredit his accolades due to the fifth year he chose to utilize, but we all were extremely lucky to watch such a special talent compete for our favorite team for another season.

RJ Davis, although he can return for a fifth season in 2024-2025, is another guy who UNC basketball fans got to see grow as a player during his time in Chapel Hill. He's currently in the midst of one of the greatest seasons we've ever seen from a Tar Heel, as he's put himself in position to have his No. 4 hung in the Dean Smith Center rafters.

Heck, BOTH players deserve to have their respective numbers recognized, and there will be plenty of time to talk about their careers once they both eventually come to a close.

What stands out the most about these guys is that they are genuinely good people.

You may not know it, but Bacot spends a lot of time at the UNC children's hospital while also being a pillar in the Chapel Hill community through various organizations. He doesn't do that for publicity: he does that because he wants to.

If you've ever had the opportunity to meet RJ Davis (I fortunately did this winter), when you speak to him, you feel as if you are the most important person in the world at that moment. You would think you've known him for years, given how he can relate to just about anyone, as his personality and kindness make him even more likable than he already is.

Of course, some key contributors have gone elsewhere (whether to the NBA or leaving North Carolina via the transfer portal). What we do know is this: the guys who are here are more than deserving of being honored by the Carolina faithful, whether they've been with the program for a few months or even five full years.

Hubert Davis often talks about wanting his players to experience running out of the tunnel to emerge in front of thousands of screaming, passionate fans at the Dean Smith Center. On Tuesday night, some student-athletes who have made a profound impact on the program will do that for potentially the final time in their collegiate careers.

And let me tell you, I'm absolutely dreading it.

Next. UNC Basketball celebrates 'Senior Night' on Tuesday night vs. Notre Dame. UNC Basketball celebrates 'Senior Night' on Tuesday night vs. Notre Dame. dark