College Basketball

UNC Star Armando Bacot Stays for Final Year with Tar Heels Thanks to Lucrative NIL Deals

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In the wake of a disappointing season for the University of North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels, who failed to make the NCAA tournament after reaching the finals last year, a glimmer of hope emerges with the return of star player Armando Bacot. The 6’10” forward from Richmond, Virginia, ranked 21st in the 2019 ESPN 100, is gearing up for his fifth and final season with the Tar Heels. Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deals may have played a significant role in his decision, reflecting the evolving landscape of college basketball.

Bacot’s NIL deals a factor in his return?

Tar Heel fans, rejoice. Armando Bacot is coming back to UNC for one more year. It is believed that NIL has played a huge part in keeping the big man in college basketball for another year, where he will use his COVID year, which allows players to have an extra year of eligibility.

Bacot’s social media presence, boasting around 250,000 followers across all platforms, has helped secure several lucrative NIL deals during his time at Chapel Hill. According to On3, he could potentially earn around $230,000 in the next 12 months.

Among his partnerships over the years are Crocs, Dunkin’ Donuts, Fanatics, Bad Boy Mowers, and Cameo. Deals like these may be incentivizing athletes like Bacot to stay in college, where earnings could surpass those in the pro ranks.

Relief for Heels fans

The all-time leading rebounder for the UNC program, Bacot has one more year of eligibility left. His return brings a sigh of relief for Tar Heel fans after the team’s failure to make the NCAA tournament this year.

Bacot’s determination was evident when he returned from an ankle injury sustained during the 2021 Final Four win against Duke, only to struggle in the championship game. Undeterred, he’ll be back next year to chase the title once more.

Despite recent departures, including Puff Johnson, Tyler Nickel, and Justin McKoy entering the transfer portal, Bacot’s return provides solace to Tar Heel fans. Over his career at UNC, Bacot has consistently improved his game, averaging 13.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. In 2022, he averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, becoming an increasingly important part of the team.

His skill and determination have earned him numerous accolades, such as NCAA All-Tourney, NCAA All-Region, 3x All-ACC, and 2x All-ACC Tourney.

In an ever-changing landscape, Armando Bacot’s return to the Tar Heels, potentially influenced by lucrative NIL deals, heralds a new era in college basketball. As he embarks on his final season in Chapel Hill, fans can expect more thrilling performances from this outstanding athlete. And with the financial incentives of NIL deals, it seems the sky’s the limit for Bacot and future college stars.

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