The Kentucky Wildcats made a major frontcourt addition when they landed Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr, a 7-foot center who has the potential to become one of the best big men in college hoops next season.
The big man averaged 13.9 points on 52.7% shooting and 9.0 rebounds for the Demon Deacons last season. Over the final five games, he averaged 20.2 points on 65.5% shooting with 10.8 boards per contest.
Now, let’s take a deeper look into who exactly Olivier Sarr is.
Originally from Niort, France, Sarr and his family moved often but stayed in France for the entirety of his teenage years. While living in France, Sarr competed in the Adidas Next Generation event in Europe in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
After completing his tenure in the Adidas Next Generation, he then joined the National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance (INSEP) but only played 13 games in 2015-2016 and none the following year due to physical problems linked to rapid growth. He also joined the France national U-18 team.
Sarr was rated as three-star recruit by 247 Sports and ranked as the No. 222 player in the 2017 class.
Yes, he was not as highly touted back then as he was on his transfer recruitment, but he also did not just come out of nowhere. He was rated one of the top international players coming into college in 2017 by 247 Sports.
During his recruitment, Sarr received multiple Division I offers, including the likes of Arizona State, UCF, Vandy, Stanford, California, and of course, Wake Forest. Sarr eventually took visits to Vandy, California, and Wake Forest until he committed to the Demon Deacons on April 12th in 2017 and signed later in the year.
When Sarr got to Wake Forest, he was not an instant-impact player, as needed time to grow while only averaging 3.2 points and 3.0 rebounds as a freshman.
Then things begin to click in his sophomore campaign, as he improved to 6.2 points and 5.5 rebounds. Sarr became the focal point of the Demon Deacons’ style of play in his junior season when he averaged 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds.
He also seemed to get more comfortable in role as he had many of his more impressive games later in the season, Including a 30-point, 17-rebound game against Notre Dame, as well as a 25-point game against Duke. He received Third-Team All-ACC honors
When it comes to things that are not strictly on the court for Sarr, I found a few interesting facts about the newest Wildcat.
First, he says that he likes to model his game after Hakeem Olajuwon, who he said is favorite player; his footwork was just unmatched and he thought that Olajuwon is the best big that ever played in the league.
I also found it interesting that he has a brother, Alexandre, that also a talented basketball player that’s already showing a lot of potential. Here is a quote from an interview with Eurohoops.
“I have a great relationship with my brother, even though we are 6 years apart. He is really mature for his age and understands a lot of things that I didn’t know at the same age. He actually came last summer and stayed with me for a month, so it was amazing to be able to show him the next level for him, working out together but also spending a good time.
“We talk every day, he talks to me after his games and I try to give advice about control what you can control, keep working hard and believe in yourself. I always try to tell him that there will be hard moments, but you have to stay focused, keep the faith, keep working and always be decisive. I’m really proud of him; he can become a great player, he has a great mentality, he is at the right place, he is working hard and has a great model. He is also going to be at least 7’0, so he got everything; the tools, knows how to work. It’s just matter of time.”
Despite a promising end to his junior season, Sarr was unable to help his head coach, Danny Manning, retain his job for next season. Manning was surprisingly let go by Wake Forest in late April, right after he had convinced Sarr not to test the NBA Draft waters and instead return for his senior season.
Not long after Manning was let go, Sarr entered the transfer portal before quickly deciding that Kentucky was wear he wanted to finish his college career.
Now, Kentucky and Sarr are applying for an immediate eligibility waiver in hopes of getting the all-conference center eligible for the 2020-21 season. Sarr has also stated if he’s not eligible, he’ll play overseas somewhere before entering the 2021 NBA Draft.
Kentucky is hopeful Sarr will be eligible, but the NCAA has been widely inconsistent when ruling on cases such as this one.
In the meantime, Sarr is getting prepared for the upcoming season while also showing off his fishing skills, which will surely endure him even more to the Kentucky fanbase.
If you would like to get to know Olivier Sarr even better, you can find him on social media at the handles below.