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John Calipari and Olivier Sarr comment on transfer to Kentucky

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“BBN, I can’t wait to get started.”

UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats have officially added Olivier Sarr to the men’s basketball roster, the school announced Wednesday.

A 7-foot, 255-pound center, Sarr enjoyed a breakout 2019-20 season with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, as he averaged 13.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. The native of Toulouse, France shot 52.7% from the floor, made the All-ACC Third Team and was the runner-up for the 2020 ACC Most Improved Player award.

“First of all, I want to thank everyone at Wake Forest – everyone from the fans, to my teammates, to all the coaches, the staff, the administration, my teachers, our academic support team, the RAs, managers and so many others – for all they’ve done for me the last three years,” Sarr said in a press release. “All of you worked with me to make me a better person, a better basketball player and a better man. I am indebted to all of you for the experience I’ve had the last three seasons. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

“To the fans at Wake Forest, thank you for adopting me and making me one of your own. I’ll never forget my time in Winston-Salem and the memories our team made playing for you. Once a Demon Deacon, always a Demon Deacon.

“With everything that has happened in the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve had a lot to think about and consider. If I’m being honest, it’s been an emotional struggle for me. Coach (Danny) Manning and the staff were family. After thinking deeply about it, talking with my support system and weighing my future, I just didn’t feel like I could be at my best by returning to Wake Forest.

“With that said, I have decided to finish my career at the University of Kentucky and take on this challenge. I want to thank everyone for their kindness and respect in coming to this decision. I will always be a fan of Wake Forest. BBN, I can’t wait to get started.”

Currently under current NCAA transfer rules, Sarr will have one season of eligibility remaining with the Wildcats starting in the 2021-22 season. However, Sarr will apply for a waiver for immediate eligibility after previous Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning was let go last week.

“I am excited to coach Olivier,” UK head coach John Calipari said in a press release. “Olivier is a great kid and a terrific player on the rise who knows he’s going to have to come in and lead. He gives us a veteran, established player who has not only played on a big stage and played well, he wants this next challenge.

“When we first talked to Olivier, my first thought wasn’t on what he does for this team, it was why he wanted to be here. I coached Danny (Manning) and know his relationship with his players, so when Danny talked about what a great kid he is, we said, ‘Let’s do this.’

“Oliver was one of the best players in the ACC last season and got better and better – as he’s done his whole career – as the year went on. By the end of the season, he was one of the top five players in the league. I’m ecstatic he wanted to be a part of this program and what we have going forward.”