247 Sports has high expectations for a couple of UNC basketball standouts and predicts one of them will be the league’s best player this season.
The countdown to UNC basketball’s season opener against UNCW is now under three months, and with the season approaching the “preseason predictions” are beginning to roll in.
The latest notable projection involving the Tar Heels was recently published as 247 Sports took a stab at naming the All-ACC 1st team while also providing a list of players that just missed the cut.
To nobody’s surprise, Armando Bacot was one of their selections for the all-conference team, and he was also recognized as their favorite to win ACC player of the year. Here is what 247’s Isaac Trotter had to say about the Tar Heel big man:
No big man is on Bacot’s tier in the ACC. He stands alone atop the league. Bacot helps North Carolina’s floor stay so high because he’s unstoppable offensively and a brick wall on defense. Bacot rebounds everything in sight and is immovable in the paint. Bacot will not be satisfied unless North Carolina wins the ACC and then wins the national championship. “Unfinished business” is the theme around North Carolina basketball. Bacot will already be one of the best players in North Carolina’s history. But his legacy completely changes if he accomplishes those last few goals. He’s a shoo-in to be All-ACC, and Bacot is the heavy favorite to win ACC Player of the Year.
Many (especially in Chapel Hill) believe Bacot was the best player in the ACC last year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Armando brings home the hardware and also lands on one of the All-American teams this season.
In this projection, Bacot is joined on the first team by Miami’s Isaiah Wong, Duke’s Dariq Whitehead, Florida State’s Matthew Cleveland, and Virginia’s Jayden Gardner.
Wong is an explosive and experienced guard that nearly led the Hurricanes to the Final Four last season, but personally, it was surprising to see any of the other three players listed instead of at least one-half of UNC’s starting backcourt duo.
Gardner was UVA’s best player last year, Cleveland was a five-star prospect who should make a sophomore jump, and Whitehead is expected to be Duke’s next freshman stud. However, none of these three players have “been there and done that” at the college level like RJ Davis and Caleb Love.
With RJ and Caleb now entering their third year in Chapel Hill, those outside the Tar Heel program might forget that both guards were selected for the 2020 McDonald’s All-American Game prior to its cancellation. Both players have shown that they can take over a game on the biggest stage in the sport, and they should be more consistent and efficient with the depth the Heels are expected to have this season.
Although they were not listed among the league’s five best players on this projection, both Davis and Love were listed in the “others in the mix” section. Other notable players in this category include NC State’s Terquavion Smith, Syracuse’s Joseph Girard III, and Notre Dame’s Dane Goodwin.
The ACC has talented players across the league this season, but if UNC is able to have the kind of team success they are hoping for, there should be no shortage of Tar Heels getting individual recognition when it matters at the end of the season.
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