Armando Bacot Jr. sits at the Dean Smith Center at the University North Carolinaexplaining that he stayed at the school partly because of the money.
He takes out his phone and opens the financial charts. From March 1 to June 8, months after he led North Carolina to a national championship game, he made a $21,000 profit by selling T-shirts using his name, image, and likeness. His first advertising deal, which he signed last summer with Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, was worth five figures. He has since signed with a purebred farm in Kentucky called Town and Country Farms and technology consulting firm CapTech, in addition to a card deal with Topps. He does commercials for Me Fine, a social service charity, and has played a paid role on a Netflix show. External banks.
He has delivered over 100 videos through Cameo is priced at $95 for individuals and $350 for businesses. He owns a burger named after him as part of a promotional deal with the Town Hall Burger and Beer in Chapel Hill, though to his dismay, the exact toppings are currently eluding him. He said that it’s okay, probably he didn’t come up with the recipe himself, he says: “I did. That’s why it’s bad that I don’t remember anything.”
Well, it’s been a busy year. The 6-foot-10 center, who turned 22 around the time he finished his junior season, says he was offered a string of deals between North Carolina’s title game in March and the SI meeting in early June. “raising the six-figure mark.” His mom, Christy Lomax, thinks his zero income this year will “definitely top half a million.”
Armando knows he wouldn’t have been selected in the first round of the NBA draft this week. He may not have been called at all. But he also says: “I know a lot of players [in the draft] that I feel like I’m better than.” Extreme prospects drop out of school all the time. He could be one of them.
If not for NIL, his mother, a real estate broker, would have encouraged him to turn professional. “He was ready physically and mentally,” she says, “and he still would have had time to get a degree from the prestigious Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina.
But With IT IS FORBIDDEN? Armando says staying at school was “easy. I have a chance to become a better person, get a degree, be among all my friends, and also make a lot of money.”
Much of the talk about the NIL seems to be a dispute between college basketball’s past and its future. Once it was about education, and now about salary. The backcot is proof that college basketball can be both.
When Armando Bacott was a little boy, he asked his grandmother to take him to GameStop, a video game store. She said “okay” and when she took him out of the house, he took the suitcase outside. Inside were various consoles and games that he wanted to sell for cash.
Sometimes he would buy candy in bulk at Sam’s Club with his mother and sell them individually to make a profit. When he was 10, Bitcoin started trading publicly, and his mom promises it’s true: “He begged me, ‘Mom, he’ll take over.’ I’m like, “I don’t get it.” He begged me and I didn’t buy bitcoins.” As a teenager, Armando saved up money for his father, a car dealer, to buy used cars at auction, and then Armando would wind up and sell them at a profit, which he did over and over again.
All the while, he was turning into one of the top 30 recruits in the country, and then, three years ago, the young businessman made a bold decision: he gave up the money. Backot says some programs offered him much more than a scholarship, in violation of NCAA rules.
“You get huge offers,” Bakot says. “For me, it was more important to be in shape and study at a good school, because I know that sooner or later the money will come. But yes, it was the case. You know it’s everywhere. You would hear huge numbers, like six-digit numbers from schools.”
Directly from their coaching staff?
And they made it clear that you can get a six-figure sum?
“One hundred percent.”
“Looking back,” he says, “I’m surprised I didn’t delve into it more, but I was so passionate about playing at Carolina, the opportunity to develop here, the whole school thing.”
Since then, his three years at the ACC have shaped his vision of what college athletes are worth. During the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which was hosted entirely in Indiana before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, it was part of coalition of players “We are trying to find a way for players to receive money for participating in a tournament during COVID. It never got far enough because [there] there just wasn’t enough time.”
However, he says players should choose a college “based on school, not just money.” He believes in NIL’s intentions, not in all of its perversions.
“Something does not suit me that some players earn more money than [their] trainers,” he says. “I don’t know if I’m a fan of this. … I don’t think it’s good. And I think it’s too easy for players to move around and schools bet on them – I don’t think that’s good for a college.
“I think [there] there must be some rules where you can’t recruit a player and say, “If you come here, I’ll give you…”. Especially on the transfer portal. I don’t think you should be able to bet on players.”
After learning that he looks a bit like a coach, he laughs and then honestly looks at himself. The fact is that he doesn’t have to look for a better or higher paying job; he’s already a star at a college of blue bloods, where “only the name of the school helps me,” he says. “I think this is hypocrisy. If I was [transferring] from mid-major… Probably, probably would go to the highest bidder.”
So how do we stop this?
“I really do not know. I think that’s why you see so much change in the NCAA – people go and go, coaches go – because it’s just the wild, wild West.”
Hubert Davis played for Dean Smith, he coached under Roy Williams and became head coach in North Carolina 77 days before the Supreme Court ruled that athletes could profit from their name, image and likeness. His job is to keep what made the Heels great while adapting to the new world of college basketball. Complaining about the wild, wild West will get him nowhere. While many coaches lament the chaos created by the NIL and the transfer portal, Davis simply says, “The chaotic part is this: another“.
Davis believes the fluid transfer system means that by finding experienced players to fill gaps in the roster, rather than just predicting how high school sophomores will perform in five years, “you can really build a team.” After the NIL’s decision was announced, he told his players that they needed three factors to make money. First: the platform that UNC provides. “There are very few programs our level, but no one is higher than us,” says Davis. Second, they had to play well. And third: they needed team success.
His best player understood all this implicitly. After 22 rebounds against Virginia on January 8, Backot wrote to his business consultant, Daniel Hennes: Tell Windex what I said, ha ha.
The glass cleaning giant still hasn’t closed a deal. Like Crocs, one of Backot’s NIL dream partners. (Think of an 18th Carolina blue Crocs with tarred heels.) But Backot kept focusing on Davis’ three factors, and he arrived at Cameron Indoor Stadium in early March for Mike Krzyszewski’s last home game with Duke. the competitive ferocity that a 100-year college basketball rivalry requires.
“Before the game, I told the guys: “We will win, otherwise there will be a fight,” says Bakot. “Something must have happened that night. We were going to win the game or we were going to swing. I mean literally.”
You know, Armando, a fight might not be good for this advertising career. …
“Yes,” he says. “But it felt like pride.”
Pride, but not hatred. The shops on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street sell a plethora of T-shirts mocking Coach K as Coach L for his two year-end losses to UNC this year, but Backot says he likes Krzyzewski. Before the NCAA tournament, he went out to dinner with Coach K’s grandson, Duke Michael Savarino. And he’s been friends with recently departed Duke star Mark Williams, an old AAU teammate from Virginia, for most of his life.
In between those two recent victories over Duke, the Hills upset Baylor, the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, after which Backot wrote to Hennes, “We’re going to make deals. Everyone wants to work with us 😂.”
Critics might cite this as an example of a player with the wrong priorities. However, Backot’s NIL deals only reinforced correctness. He started the year knowing he needed to show off the shooting range to impress NBA scouts, but he says that whenever he gets the chance to shoot the long jump, “I feel like I’m calming down.” He prefers to pass, cut to the basket and get in position for rebounding. He thinks it’s best for Carolina. Now it is also profitable. Instead of showing off his talents to the professionals, Bakot kept some of them hidden.
“He can really shoot three people,” Davis says. “He can dribble and bounce. But one of the things Armando has done that most kids don’t do: he doesn’t walk away from what he does. [best] at the elite level. He jumps back and defends himself. The only things that carry over 100% from college to the NBA are rebounding and defense.”
Davis is adamant that Backot will be “selected in the first round of the draft next year.” The NBA has given up on the traditional big guys who are defensively limited; one screen is enough to force the switch and use them. But it is convenient for Bakot to defend on the perimeter. “Armando can easily do it,” says Davis. “He big at the same time, and he is a dynamic video to …