Senior center Armando Bacot didn't need to set records for his impact on the North Carolina men's basketball team to be obvious, but breaking them certainly helps to show just how productive he has been throughout his career
Against N.C. State on Jan. 21, Bacot set new marks in UNC’s record book for both career rebounds and double-doubles. The former was held by Tyler Hansbrough, who played 142 career games in his illustrious career for the Tar Heels, yet Bacot broke his record in just 119 outings. The double-double record was formerly held by Billy Cunningham, who held the record for over 57 years before Bacot re-established a new mark.
“He’s a fantastic player. He’s one of the best players in Carolina history,” head coach Hubert Davis said after Bacot’s record-breaking performance against the Wolfpack.
Beyond the scope of UNC’s program, there is a strong argument for Bacot being the best rebounding big in the country since arriving at Chapel Hill. He has 61 double-doubles in his career, which is nine more than any other active player.
His 22 games with 15 or more rebounds rank third nationally since the start of the 2019-20 season, behind only Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe and Texas Tech’s Fardaws Aimaq. Additionally, Bacot’s 23-rebound game against James Madison earlier in the season marked his sixth-career game with 20 or more rebounds, which is tied for second-most among all players dating back to 2010.
“Being able to get rebounds leads to fouls and second-chance opportunities, and that’s just one of the things that I pride myself on,” Bacot said after an 18-rebound performance against N.C. State.
This season, Bacot has been tasked with keeping UNC afloat both on the glass and offensively despite having injuries limiting him for substantial parts of the season. A shoulder injury limited his effectiveness in the early portion of the schedule and even forced Bacot to miss the team’s road loss to Virginia Tech. After a strong start to conference play, he went down with an ankle injury just one minute into the game against Virginia and missed the final 39 minutes.
Bacot has played heavy minutes even through those injuries, logging 30 minutes or more in all but three games since missing the Virginia Tech game, with one of those games being the Virginia contest where he played only one minute.
What’s more, his minutes have been consistently effective. He’s put up 20 or more points in nine of his last 10 games where he played 30 minutes. He ranks in the top 10 in the ACC in box plus-minus, has maintained a true shooting percentage of over 60 percent despite commanding the highest usage percentage in his career, and he's even put up 13 assists in his last five full games.
“He’s just a force every night down there in the paint,” junior guard RJ Davis added after the N.C. State win.
With the Tar Heels still outside of the top 25 in the AP poll and two and a half games back in the ACC standings, there is still work to be done in the remaining 9 games of the regular season and beyond.
One of the only accolades missing from Bacot's resume is a national championship win, and that will only come if Bacot can continue the superb play that has already gotten him multiple records and placed him squarely in the race for ACC Player of the Year.
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