Now cleared to play this season, Olivier Sarr took his turn in front of the Kentucky media today on Zoom. We’ve already shared some stories with you — how he was so excited when he heard about his waiver he almost picked John Calipari up off the ground and how he’s modeling his game after Anthony Davis — but we also learned some fun facts about the seven-footer from France. Such as…
1. He had an offer to play professional soccer, but didn’t know about it
Sarr grew up playing soccer in addition to basketball and was so good that a professional team (Girondins de Bordeaux) recruited him; however, his dad hid the letter because he believed more in his son’s potential on the hardwood.
“I was better at soccer than basketball,” Sarr said. “I was recruited by a professional team but my dad hid the letter from that team and he showed it to me two or three years ago and I think he kind of knew I was going to be a little too tall to play midfield in a professional soccer league, so he made the right decision. Even though I was still a little bit upset, he made the right decision.”
Sarr’s favorite soccer player? Ronaldinho from Barcelona.
“I can’t compare myself to him but I was playing the same position, midfield, and I was doing a little bit of everything, kicking from far, free kicks, corner kicks, playing a little bit of defense and just organizing the offense.”
2. Basketball is big in his family
Sarr’s bio on Wikipedia says his father played professional basketball in France, but Sarr explained it’s not the level of pro basketball Kentucky fans might imagine.
“If I can bring a little bit of clarity to this, my dad did not play professional like people might think. He played third division. Not really as a pro athlete. He played, but nothing really major that would make you think he played at a high level. But he knew a lot about basketball and we always had a hoop at home and a basketball and I always played with him. I’ve got a great relationship with my dad and it’s levitating around basketball all the time. I’ve got a younger brother too and it’s something that’s really big in the family and we really love to be around each other and talk basketball a lot.”
Sarr’s brother, Alexandre, plays for Real Madrid at the youth level. As Jerry Tipton explained in his notebook Sunday, the 15-year-old Alexandre does not receive a salary but does get living expenses to play for the club. Could we see him in Kentucky blue one day too?
3. He was not named after Laurence Olivier
What do you think of when you hear the name “Olivier”? If you’re Jerry Tipton, the actor Laurence Olivier. Sadly for Jerry, that is not Sarr’s namesake.
“No, not at all. You might have to ask my parents about that, but I don’t think so. Olivier is a common name in France and it’s the name of my godfather. He was someone who had a big impact on my parents when I wasn’t born yet, so they decided to give me his name.”
4. He does not trash talk the refs in French
Jerry got in another silly question when he asked Sarr if he ever slipped into his native tongue on the court, for instance, when he disagrees with the refs.
“No. Always respect the refs. Never.”
Smart kid. We here at KSR agree.
5. He wears the No. 30 to honor the women in his life
If you don’t already love Sarr, this will do the trick. When asked, he said he wears the No. 30 to honor his mother and goddaughter.
“I wear No. 30 for a lot of reasons. The first, it’s something I look up to because it’s the number of years my mom has on me and it’s something that reminds me of her when I play and also I’m a godfather now and my goddaughter was born on July 30 so I play for a lot of women in my life. I love both of them and it’s something that reminds me of them.”
I mean, swoon.