Bacot to return for UNC; Johnson 4th Tar Heel to hit transfer portal

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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Four UNC players now in the transfer portal
North Carolina's Armando Bacot will return for a fifth season with the Tar Heels while Puff Johnson announces his departure from the program.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- In the midst of an exodus of players from the University of North Carolina men's basketball program, the Tar Heels got a boost when All-ACC big man Armando Bacot said Wednesday that he planned to return for a fifth season.

Bacot, who is among the 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds this season.

The Tar Heels (20-13) decided not to play in the NIT after failing to make the NCAA tournament field for the first time since 2010. The Tar Heels made dubious history this season, becoming the first preseason No. 1 team to fail to make the NCAA tournament in the expansion era.

"I'm using my last year of eligibility," Bacot told Stadium. "I felt it was the right decision for my future. ... The primary reason I am coming back is because I don't want to leave North Carolina this way. But I also know I need to improve and feel like this is the best place to do that."

Bacot, an AP third-team All-America selection, was hampered by ankle injuries multiple times during the season.

He has averaged 13.7 points and 10.1 rebounds in his four seasons with North Carolina.

Puff Johnson enters transfer portal

Meanwhile, small forward Puff Johnson said he plans to enter the transfer portal, he told On3 Sports.

Johnson was a regular rotation player for the Tar Heels and averaged 4.1 points and 2.7 rebounds this year.

UNC forward Puff Johnson said it's time for him to play elsewhere.
Chris Seward

"I am grateful to be a Tar Heel," Johnson said in a statement. "My time in Chapel Hill has taught me lessons that extend far beyond the basketball court. I have given 100% to the University on and off of the court. A heartfelt thanks to Coach Williams for recruiting me and giving me the opportunity to play at Carolina. I also want to thank Coach Davis and the entire UNC staff for giving me the opportunity to play under their leadership for the last two years. To my teammates, thank you for always being by my side and for being my brothers.

"Most importantly, thank you Carolina Nation for embracing and supporting me throughout my time here," he added. "I will always love you, but the time has come for me to enter the transfer portal and take that next step as a basketball player."

Johnson, a former four-star recruit, is the fourth Tar Heel to announce plans to play elsewhere, joining reserves sophomore forward Dontrez Styles, senior forward Justin McKoy and freshman wing Tyler Nickel.

ESPN contributed.