You can’t really overstate the magnitude of UK landing an impact player like Olivier Sarr. It’s not everyday that a program has the opportunity to add an All-ACC caliber performer to the roster, much less a place like the University of Kentucky, who is already littered with talent.
After Sarr announced his intentions to come to Lexington on Wednesday the focus quickly shifted to the NCAA’s ruling on his eligibility. It’s a fact that the Cats are aiming to have him join next season’s roster and be their desperately needed anchor in the paint.
It’s important to keep in mind that the circumstances surrounding Olivier Sarr are not the same as a traditional graduate-transfer. The bottom line is that he isn’t a grad-transfer so relying on the NCAA to grant his immediate eligibility will be the only way that Sarr suits up in the fall without have sit out an entire year.
Scary, right? Well, yes and No.
Of course anytime the NCAA is involved in decision-making you have to take a deep breath and hope for the best. There are countless examples of inconsistencies and an utter lack of of common sense. But fortunately, there are some factors that should be looked upon favorably when investigating Sarr’s unique case.
The biggest piece of evidence that will be used to convince the NCAA that he deserves immediate eligibility are the details surrounding the departure of his former head coach, Danny Manning. The story goes that before he was removed at Wake Forest he instructed Olivier Sarr to return to school and put his professional career on hold for another year. Now that Manning is officially gone that decision could have possibly went in another direction but time had run-out to reevaluate.
The NCAA historically doesn’t grant immediate eligibility for players just because of a coaching change. Which begs the question, will they be receptive to the rationale of Sarr’s case coming from Wake Forest?
Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader spoke to Rick Allen who is an NCAA rules expert and he seems to think so, but that may not enough.
“Yeah, that one is a little bit different, I can’t say I’ve heard of that specific type of situation before.” Allen said.
Rick Allen is the founder of the Informed Athlete and has decades of experience helping players navigate the ever evolving NCAA rule book. His opinion on the matter can be as trusted as anyone.
There are several other important factors that will ultimately be considered including the global pandemic that has uprooted life as we know it. It’s possible that the NCAA could be far more lenient than in years past just due to the unprecedented circumstances of everyday life right now. Not to mention the expected rule change that will allow this to be common practice just one year from now.
Then there is the intriguing aspect of whether or not Steve Forbes and Wake Forest are willing to play-ball and support Sarr’s immediate eligibility at UK, or will they choose to fight it?
It appears at this point that Wake Forest won’t go the route of road-blocking Sarr, which is great news.
However, with all of the data to dissect rules expert Rick Allen doesn’t seem holistically optimistic that the NCAA to grant immediate eligibility for the 21 year old post player who averaged nearly 14 points and 9 rebounds a game in one of the best basketball conferences in the country.
“But based on the information that’s out there, I wouldn’t be optimistic,” Allen told Ben Roberts.
Yikes. You can read the entire article here. It is packed with relevant information on the Olivier Sarr transfer request.
Regardless of when the time comes, Olivier Sarr is going to be a major difference maker when he steps on the court. But there is no denying that it will be a major blow to John Calipari’s title hopes for next season if the request for immediate eligibility is denied.
To top things off, the worst part may be the waiting game. The NCAA is known for long drawn out decision-making, so who knows, this could drag out well into the fall.