Armando Bacot was clearly a priority for the North Carolina coaching staff. Roy Williams and his assistants were frequent visitors to Trinity Episcopal's games and practices. Last fall, two months before the season started, Williams spent 90 minutes in the Trinity gym watching Bacot play a pickup game.
Bacot, a rising senior, responded Thursday by committing to play basketball for the Tar Heels. He announced his selection in a video posted to social media.
The past six months have been momentous for him. In March, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound center was named All-Metro player of the year after averaging 24.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks. After the high school season ended, he was selected to the U18 national team for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
After the school year ended, Bacot announced he would spend his senior season at IMG Academy in Florida. He departs this week.
He joined a new AAU team for the summer, the Washington D.C.-based Team Takeover. The squad went 23-1 and was considered the country's No. 1 17U team by some observers. ESPN ranks Bacot the nation's 21st best recruit in the country in the Class of 2019.
His other finalists were Duke, VCU, Oklahoma State and Georgia. North Carolina already has one Richmond-area player on the roster, L.C. Bird alumnus Kenny Williams, a rising senior.
I’ll be attending...... pic.twitter.com/q19S3cUUVN— Armando Bacot Jr. (@iget_buckets35) August 16, 2018
The Tar Heels, Trinity coach Rick Hamlin said, are a great fit for Bacot.
"They have always had athletic, skilled big men who run the court and protect the rim," Hamlin said. "Armando also throws incredible outlet passes which will help to spring the famous Carolina fast break."
When Bacot was a freshman, he wasn't fast enough to play at Trinity's speed, so he was relegated to coming off the bench. But he committed himself to becoming more agile and more flexible. He became a starter by the end of his freshman year then had a breakout sophomore season and was named All-Metro.
If all goes to plan, Bacot may not stay long at North Carolina. It's possible, Hamlin said, that Bacot spends one year at UNC before heading to the NBA.
Bacot isn't NBA ready yet. But each year, he improves by leaps and bounds. He went from a bench player to All-Metro in one season. A year later, he was a member of the U.S. national team. If he continues better his game, he could be a professional in two years.
"The trajectory is encouraging," Hamlin said.