North Carolina's Armando Bacot coming back for fifth season in 2023-24

Bacot averaged 16 points per game in a disappointing season for the Tar Heels

North Carolina forward Armando Bacot, right, drives against Virginia forward Ben Vander Plas, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

North Carolina forward Armando Bacot is coming back for a fifth season.

Bacot told Stadium on Wednesday that he would use his extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bacot averaged nearly 16 points per game in 2022-23 in what was a disappointing season for North Carolina.

Bacot was an integral part of North Carolina’s run to the Final Four in 2022. The Tar Heels were a No. 8 seed in coach Hubert Davis’ first season and upset Baylor in the second round before beating UCLA and St. Peter’s to make the Final Four. UNC then beat Duke in what turned out to be coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game at the school and lost by three to Kansas in the national title game after jumping out to a big lead in the first half.

North Carolina started the 2022-23 season as the No. 1 team in the country because of all the talent that returned from the Final Four team, including Bacot, Leaky Black, RJ Davis and Caleb Love. But the season went sideways early.

After starting 5-0 against weaker competition, North Carolina lost four consecutive games against Power Five opponents. The Tar Heels went on to go 11-9 in ACC play and lost by nine to Virginia in the second round of the ACC tournament. That loss solidified North Carolina’s status as a team outside the tournament and the Tar Heels became the first team to start the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 and miss the tournament entirely in the 64-team era.

Bacot’s decision to come back to school comes as the style of play has shifted in the NBA and players in college athletics are allowed to make money off their image rights through endorsements and sponsorships. Teams in the association like versatile big men who can shoot from behind the 3-point line and defend on the wing. The 6-foot-10 Bacot makes his living in the post for the Tar Heels. He has shot over 55% from the field in his career at North Carolina on 1,224 field goal attempts. Just 15 of those shots have been from behind the arc and he’s made only one of them.

Bacot will also have a lot of new teammates in 2023-24. While he's staying in Chapel Hill, four North Carolina players have already put their names in the transfer portal.