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Wake Forest working hard to keep Olivier Sarr; retain key assistant

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Steve Forbes is trying to keep the talented big man back in Winston Salem.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-Wake Forest vs Pittsburgh Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest Demon Deacons star center Olivier Sarr entered his name into the transfer portal last week, after former Wake head coach Danny Manning was fired. Wake Forest then named East Tennessee State head coach Steve Forbes as the new head man in charge.

Since then, Forbes and his staff have been working around the clock to try and keep the 7-footer in Winston Salem. Forbes noted this on the “More with Les” podcast by 247 Sports.

“He’s going to have the who’s who recruiting him,” Forbes said. “But that’s the people we have to beat anyway to be good, right? We’re going to swing for the fences and put our best foot forward, and we’ll see where it goes.

“I don’t expect it to be a real fast process, I don’t know. We’ll just have to play it by ear. I’m not going to pressure him, I told him that. I’m just going to continue to get to know him.”

Forbes did retain Wake assistant Randolph Childress, a coach that Sarr is extremely close to. Childress is also actively recruiting Sarr back to Wake. There was speculation that if Wake Forest hired Childress as its next coach, Sarr would remain. But since he’s only staying on as an assistant, it looks like Sarr is more willing to leave for another program.

A big reason? He wants to win.

“My drive is winning,” Sarr told ESPN when announcing his decision to enter the transfer portal. “Everybody knows there’s been some tough years with Wake. I tried my best individually to improve and work on my game, but really, in the next program I’m looking for a winning program. A winning team with ambition. A team that plays with intensity.”

With so many players transferring out of Wake Forest due to the firing of Manning, it might be tough to see a winning future there within the next 2-3 years.

The Kentucky Wildcats are expected to reach out once Sarr officially puts his name into the portal. There was a paperwork issue that’s prevented it from becoming official until this week.

It’s clear that just getting Sarr to leave Wake Forest will be a battle, let alone overcoming what’s expected to be a long list of major programs coming after him.

Can Kentucky overcome it all and land the highly-touted center? We’ll find out in the coming weeks and possibly months.