No, Kentucky has not received word from the NCAA regarding Olivier Sarr’s waiver request.
There is, however, confidence within the program that the talented 7-foot center will ultimately be deemed eligible to play this season in Lexington.
In a conference call with Kentucky media members this morning, UK head coach John Calipari said the Wake Forest transfer’s paperwork is all in and the program feels “confident” the NCAA will approve his waiver when it comes time for a final decision.
“The Olivier [paperwork] has been in, we’re waiting to hear,” Calipari said. “We feel confident, but you never know till you hear he’s good to go. He’s got a great case. We’ll wait to hear.”
Calipari said that with Kentucky’s recent history with departing transfers – Johnny Juzang, Jemarl Baker, and Quade Green being the prominent names who received immediate eligibility – he knows the procedures and what the NCAA is looking for when deciding on specific cases.
“There’s two pieces of this. We have an idea because every kid that leaves us is ruled eligible right away, so we know what it is,” the UK head coach said. “I’d say, these cases have to fall in like three different buckets. This bucket, that bucket, or this bucket to really be considered. Knowing that, I may have said some stuff on Stephen A. Smith that maybe got them mad and they’ll say, “Great, Sarr’s not eligible.” I don’t think they’d do that to a kid, but these cases, some are high profile. They’ll be more in-tune to because it’s a high profile case. Kids have left us before, so I have an idea of what the procedure is like.”
After committing to and signing with Kentucky back on May 6, Sarr’s waiver request was officially submitted in the following weeks prior to June.
Midway through July, we’re now approaching two months since the NCAA received the paperwork. Other cases, both basketball and football, have since been approved, but the wait continues for Sarr.
Though fans have quickly grown impatient, Calipari said the delay is reasonable, as the NCAA tends to be more thorough in high profile cases.
With Kentucky being, well, Kentucky, along with Sarr being considered the top transfer in all of college basketball, Calipari says the NCAA simply wants to make sure they “have this right.”
“What they do is they’ll red flag it because it’s Kentucky, it’s Olivier Sarr, who’s one of the best transfer players,” Calipari said. “They’ll want to make sure, “Let’s really make sure we have this right,” and it may take more time. I don’t think we’ll be treated any different, I know they don’t treat it any different than any other case. But it’s more of a high profile case so they’ll look at it [closer].”
Last year at Wake Forest, the 7-foot, 255-pound center averaged an impressive 13.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He shot 52.7% from the floor, made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Third Team and was the runner-up for the 2020 ACC Most Improved Player award. In his third season with the Demon Deacons, Sarr led the team with 11 double-doubles and 33 blocks, scored in double figures in 23 games and was a two-time ACC Player of the Week.
The standout big man was particularly good late in conference play, finishing on a six-game double-figure scoring run with three double-doubles. Included in that season-ending tear was a 20-point, 13-rebound game vs. Pitt in the 2019-20 finale, a career-high 30 points and 17 rebounds in a win vs. Notre Dame, and 25 points in a double-overtime victory over Duke. Sarr also enjoyed three straight double-doubles in January vs. Virginia, Clemson and Boston College and recorded 21 points and 13 rebounds vs. nationally ranked Arizona.
While the talent is unquestioned, Sarr’s eligibility is arguably the biggest remaining question in college basketball going into the 2020-21 season.