It’s been one hell of a roller coaster ride as John Calipari scrambles to add one more piece to the 2020/2021 Kentucky Wildcats roster.
BBN thought that their prayers were answered with Purdue grad transfer Matt Haarms. But, even in the face of reports that he was a done deal at UK, Haarms went off the beaten path to Mark pope and BYU.
That left John Calipari with limited and uninspiring options. 2020 four star player Frank Anselem’s recruitment has been gaining a lot of steam, but the kid is a project and is not ready to make a meaningful impact. Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams has Kentucky on his list of final four schools. But the problem with him is that A). He is 6’9 and Kentucky already has three guys that are the same height; and B). Mid-major grad transfers are a crap shoot in regards to whether their skills transfer to big boy basketball.
The reclassification option is an intriguing one. Paolo Banchero is a top five player in the 2021 class but he has emphatically stated multiple times that he is not reclassifying. Moussa Cisse and Efton Reid are both viable options to reclassify but it’s not a done deal that either would be willing to jump classes.
That leaves John Calipari with one more option. And, to me, it’s his most attractive option: Olivier Sarr.
Sarr entered the transfer portal once Wake Forest fired Danny Manning. The program quickly hired Stephen Forbes to replace Manning and Forbes immediately talked to Sarr about staying at Wake as he is arguably the best player they would have coming back.
Word was that the meeting went fairly well but it didn’t stop Sarr officially entering the transfer portal:
Wake Forest All-ACC big man Olivier Sarr is officially in the NCAA Transfer Portal, per a source.— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) May 5, 2020
Sarr is a player that can bring an immediate impact to Kentucky. He is 7’0 and 225 pounds. He averaged 13 points and 9 rebounds last season at Wake Forest. He was an All ACC team selection. He is now by far the best transfer on the market and it’s not close.
The addition of Sarr would mean that the Cats are in a prime position for a Final Four. There wouldn’t be a hole in the starting five and the roster would be complete unless Calipari wants to get one more big just for insurance purposes.
This is a big deal for Calipari and his staff. He has whiffed on talented bigs, both recruits and grad transfers, in recent years. Kerry Blackshear and Matt Haarms were the best big man grad transfers two years in a row. Kentucky pursued them both, Blackshear even more aggressivley than Haarms, and both players opted for lesser programs.
And do I have to get into big man recruits? Top ten big men have been giving Calipari the stiff arm in recent years as well. EJ Montgomery has been the only big man in the top ten that Calipari has landed since Bam Adebayo committed as the ninth ranked player in the country.
John Calipari needs a big man desperately and there aren’t any options out there better than Sarr. It will be a worrisome sign if Kentucky recruits him and once again they are left without a commitment.