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Bacot's Career: 'I Wouldn’t Trade It For Anything'

LOS ANGELES – An era ended Thursday.

Armando Bacot, who has played in more games than anyone in ACC history, took the court for North Carolina for the last time.

The top-seed Tar Heels fell to 4-seed Alabama, 89-87, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament at Arena. His 169th however, which was also his 168th start, was the final one for Bacot as a Tar Heel.

“Just so thankful,” Bacot said after the loss Thursday night. “Growing up, even in high school, I never thought I’d get to this point, so to be able to live what I’ve lived through these five years of college has been amazing.

“I mean, everything Carolina; the school, the state, the fans have given me, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Nothing in this world. I’m just glad I was able to be a part of this for five years.”

Bacot arrived at UNC only months after Luke Maye and Cam Johnson departed. UNC was 26 months removed from winning Roy Williams’ third national championship. And since, the unforeseen experiences and sweeping changes on the college athletics landscape have served as pronounced backdrops for Bacot’s career.

Add in there the second losingest team in UNC history (14-19) when he was a freshman; Williams retiring; Hubert Davis taking over; a surprise run to the national championship game in 2022; then being on the first team in the expanded NCAA Tournament era to start as the AP preseason No. 1 club and not make the big dance a year ago; to winning an ACC regular season title this season, he has seen just about everything.

No Tar Heel has experienced what Bacot has. His unique time in Chapel Hill is worthy of a book some day. And Bacot’s last season is one he will most cherish.

“I think this year for me was the finest year of basketball I’ve had in my life,” he said. “Even though we didn’t win a national championship, and that was a big goal for us; and we were definitely good enough and talented enough.

“The amount of fun we had this year, the (pressure) for basketball going to a school like this is tough. Such a big brand, and at times some things you hear (and) see, and things you go through at a school like this can be tough at times.”

Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot played in his ACC-record 169th and last game at UNC Thursday night.
Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot played in his ACC-record 169th and last game at UNC Thursday night. (USA Today)

Bacot’s personal accomplishments will live forever. Aided by a fifth year of eligibility, something he regularly notes when asked about the company he keeps on Carolina’s all-time this and that lists, it’s always fair to note he became the program’s all-time leading rebounder during his fourth season.

A few of his milestones and accolades:

-2,347 points

-1,715 rebounds

-87 double-doubles (tying NCAA record)

-Eight double-doubles in NCAA Tournament play ties him with Antawn Jamison for UNC’s most ever

-Set UNC single-season records in 2021-22 with 511 rebounds, 31 double-doubles, five 20-rebound games (tied), 32 games with 10 or more rebounds, rebounds in an NCAA Tournament and rebounds by a Tar Heel in the Elite 8, national semifinal and championship games.

-Team solo or co-MVP each of the last four seasons

-First-Team All-ACC (either by ACC media or AP) the last three seasons

-Two-time third-team All-America

A full list of Bacot’s personal achievements would go on for some time, but the listed snap shot paints a picture of his impact on Carolina basketball and all he has given the program.

“It’s a great feeling because I didn’t have any expectations after my freshman year,” Bacot replied when asked about his career marks. “I didn’t even know if I’d be good enough to play in the ACC.”

Bacot and UNC’s season ended three games early, he and teammates said Thursday night. They had bigger goals in mind, and the obvious emotion in the locker room following the defeat reflected their collective belief the season was supposed to continue.

It ended, however, and so did Bacot’s career.

“Playing at a school like this was the best experience,” he said. “Tough to go out like this because we had high aspirations for this year. But me, I wouldn’t trade anything.”

Armando Bacot Post-Alabama Interview