The achievement that should earn Armando Bacot’s No. 5 inclusion among the honored jerseys in the Smith Center rafters has nothing to do with the 2,300-plus points he scored or the fact that he finished his career, finally, with the most rebounds in program history.

It’s the precedent he set by using his extra COVID year of eligibility to return for a 5th season with the Tar Heels.

Maybe teammate RJ Davis would have decided to come back anyway. But Bacot’s example and the benefits he gained by coming back made a similar decision that much easier for the reigning ACC Player of the Year.

Although Davis has yet to officially announce his plans for 2024-25, multiple published reports indicate he’ll be back in Carolina blue rather than trying to play professionally.

It’s hardly a surprise.

Davis has been dropping hints of a possible return before and since being serenaded by UNC’s student section with chants of “One more year” during his Senior Day ceremony.

“I’m just going to finish out this year, go to the ACC Tournament, do well in March Madness and see how everything plays out,” he said at the time, adding that his only goal was “to finish out strong.”

The fact that he didn’t accomplish that goal may have been a contributing factor to his decision to return.

Not only did the top-seeded Tar Heels lose to rival NC State in the ACC Tournament final and fall short of the Final Four, but Davis went 0-for-9 from 3-point range in the game that knocked them out – a Sweet 16 loss to Alabama that would have been his final appearance in a UNC uniform.

The opportunity to finish on a more positive note, however, isn’t the only perk that comes with playing 1 final season in Chapel Hill.

For starters, Davis was unlikely to have been taken in the 1st round of the NBA Draft, the only round contracts are guaranteed. Most recognized mock drafts didn’t have the undersized 6-foot combo guard being taken at all.

That’s not likely to change with 1 more college season unless he happens to grow a few inches taller between now and then. Even though his shooting ability should provide him with an opportunity to earn his way onto an NBA roster, he’ll have to do it the hard way.

On a minimum free agent deal.

As Bacot’s experience proved, the earning potential of UNC’s name, likeness and image collective – along with other independent deals – can be far greater than that of the G-League or playing overseas.
Beyond the financial aspects, putting off the grind for another year will give Davis a chance at enhancing an already secure place in the Tar Heels’ storied history.

He stands 5th on UNC’s career scoring list with 2,088 points. As Bacot pointed out after Davis passed Hall of Famer Lennie Rosenbluth in the Tar Heels’ 2nd-round NCAA Tournament win against Michigan State, “there’s a good chance he can break No. 1 if he comes back another year.”

Davis needs 785 points to surpass Tyler Hansbrough’s school record total of 2,872. That’s 1 more than the 784 he scored while averaging an ACC-leading 21.8 this past season.

“It would be great to become the No. 1 leading scorer,” Davis said last month. “I’m the leading scorer at my high school and for me to do it in college, that’s just insane to me. I just look up at the list and see T. Hans did it in 4 years. I would do it in 5 years. I don’t know if I would give myself enough credit, but I think I would just because it’s at Carolina.”

News of Davis’ decision to return began to filter onto social media Tuesday night only a few hours after another important piece to UNC’s success next season, athletic wing Seth Trimble, announced that he was withdrawing his name from the transfer portal to stay with the Tar Heels.

With Trimble taking over Cormac Ryan’s spot on the wing, a more experienced and mature point guard Elliot Cadeau running the offense and the arrival of 5-star freshman Ian Jackson – the nation’s No. 2-ranked recruit – to add even more firepower, no one in the country will have a backcourt as deep, versatile or talented as the Tar Heels.

There are still some big holes to fill in the frontcourt thanks to the departures of Bacot and Harrison Ingram. But if coach Hubert Davis can duplicate the success he had with the transfer portal a year ago, his team will once again be favored to win the ACC.

And be in a position to help Davis achieve the 1 goal even Bacot wasn’t able to accomplish.