Armando Bacot Will Play Friday; Francis and Harris Progressing for UNC

Brant Wilkerson-New

North Carolina finally got some good injury news on Friday as Roy Williams announced that Armando Bacot will be available Friday night when the Tar Heels meet Gardner-Webb.

"Mondo will be OK, he’ll play," Williams said.

Bacot, averaging 3.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, was limited to three minutes in Friday's victory over UNC Wilmington after he took a shot to the face from Seahawks guard Jaylen Sims.

After briefly staggering, Bacot went to the locker room and never returned to the Carolina bench as he was evaluated for a potential concussion.

Bacot's return will be a major boost for a Carolina team that has been hit hard by injury over the past two months, as freshmen guard Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris began the season still recovering from knee injuries they suffered in high school, while senior guard Brandon Robinson went down with a sprained right ankle early in the Tar Heels' victory over Notre Dame.

Junior forward Sterling Manley has been limited with recurring knee soreness following an offseason surgery.

Williams said last week that Carolina tentatively expects to have Robinson back in the lineup around the time of the Battle 4 Atlantis, where the Tar Heels will start with Alabama on Nov. 27, with two more games over the next two days.

"I think Anthony and Jeremiah are progressing, so I think you can say they’re getting closer," Williams said. "I think B-Rob is getting closer, but Anthony and Jeremiah, we’re having do some halfcourt stuff but nothing fullcourt."

Manley isn't close to a return, as he's been limited to individual work in practice. 

"Sterling is not doing anything five-on-five at all," Williams said.

Williams wondered aloud if he'd named everyone on the injury report before adding himself.

"Coach has got a crick in his neck, but he’s still coaching," he said.

Due to injuries, Williams is in uncharted territory with his rotation, playing starters 79.6 percent of minutes.