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Kentucky announces immediate eligibility of Olivier Sarr and Jacob Toppin

Olivier Sarr and Jacob Toppin are eligible to compete for the Kentucky men’s basketball team this season.

The NCAA and Southeastern Conference have determined Sarr and Toppin are immediately eligible to play at Kentucky for the 2020-21 season.

“I want to start by thanking the NCAA, the SEC and Kentucky for this opportunity,” said Saar, a centerpiece at Wake Forest over the last three seasons who transferred to UK in early May. “I am excited to finish my college career in front of the Big Blue Nation and chase No. 9 with my team.”

Sarr will provide the Wildcats a big boost upfront. The 7-footer enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2019-20 with the Demon Deacons, averaging 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.

“This is a big day for me and I want to thank the NCAA and my Kentucky family for their help in this process,” said Toppin, who transferred to UK in April. “I can’t wait to get on the court with this group of guys and play in front of our fans.”

Toppin, a 6-8 forward, is the brother of Dayton’s Obi Toppin, the consensus national player of the year in 2019-20. Like his brother Obi, who averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as a redshirt sophomore, Jacob possesses a high upside with good size and great athleticism.

“I’m excited for Olivier and Jacob,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “Both have worked really hard and deserve this opportunity. They were both hopping and skipping out of my office after getting the news because they’ve been waiting on this day. I want to thank the NCAA and the SEC for considering the unique circumstances surrounding this season and we appreciate them working with us throughout this process.

“In Olivier’s case, I know this has been difficult for him, everything from the coaching change at Wake Forest, to deciding his future to waiting through this process. He’s gone about his business every day and continued to work hard in hopes of joining his teammates on the floor this winter.

“Jacob came here needing a fresh start. From day one, he’s been a great teammate and been an important part of this group in practice. He has tremendous upside and a great spirit about him.

“I know we’re all looking forward to chasing our goals soon.”

Widely regarded as one of the nation’s top transfers, Sarr totaled 664 points, 496 rebounds and 81 blocks with 31 starts in three seasons at Wake Forest.

Sarr should offer Kentucky an elite rim protector with considerable size and good athleticism. In his third season with the Demon Deacons, he 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. Sarr 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.

Sarr showed promise as a sophomore, averaging 6.2 points and 5.5 rebounds in 25 games, including 16 starts. He led the team with 25 blocks and scored in double figures in four games.

Prior to his career at Wake Forest, Sarr played for the French National Team at the U-17 and U-18 levels. He will be the 10th 7-footer in UK history and the first since Isaac Humphries in 2016-17.

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Toppin became an immediate contributor for a Rhode Island team that went 21-9 on the season and finished 13-5 in the Atlantic 10. He scored in double figures five times in his freshman season, highlighted by 12 points and eight rebounds vs. Richmond, a potential at-large NCAA Tournament team this past season, and 12 points in 11 minutes vs. Saint Joseph’s.  He also performed well vs. his future SEC foes Alabama and LSU, scoring 11 points and 10, respectively, in nonconference play.

Toppin showed an ability to stretch the floor with 13 3-pointers, including three vs. Alabama. He shot 42.6% from the floor.

The experience and depth of the frontcourt transfers will be critical for one of the most inexperienced rosters of the Calipari era. UK will be tasked with replacing 94% of its scoring from last season – most under Calipari – 92.4% of its minutes, 84.4% of its rebounds, 98.6% of its assists and 91.5% of its blocks.

(UK Athletics)

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

30 Comments for Kentucky announces immediate eligibility of Olivier Sarr and Jacob Toppin



  1. Papa Johns 40th Pizza
    7:38 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Number 9 baby



  2. WildcatNation
    7:42 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    WOOOOO



  3. blueballs80
    7:45 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Great news, now let’s go pummel the rest of college basketball



  4. RexRox
    7:45 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Best news I’ve heard in a looooong time!



  5. bbnZach
    7:46 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    #1 preseason



  6. michaelb
    7:48 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Taking Kentucky vs the spread every game this year now.



  7. magimae
    8:14 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Yahtzee



  8. Pensacola_Cat_Fan
    8:14 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Some of you that were biting your nails for months can now continue your normal life.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:20 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

      Thanks for your permission!



  9. JT55
    8:17 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Great news. I still see the Cats losing some games early, but they should be tough come March.



  10. UKFanSC
    8:28 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    This team is shaping up to be a juggernaut



  11. Stop Hammer Time
    8:32 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    This is great news. But hope he is better than the last two 5th year guys (1 year players). Those guys were way overhyped and if they were as good as advertised they would have gone to the NBA and not transferred here. Both were disappointments.



    • dcforuk
      9:04 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

      Sestina wasn’t a “star” but was solid with experience. Travis helped UK make a deep run to be an OT away from the FF.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:19 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

      Reid was never 100% after his injury IMO, and he had started playing really well on offense. Even before that he was consistently guarding the other team’s big man, neutralizing even the best of them while physically beating on them, and exhausting himself while doing so (he was getting IVs after several of those games).

      We need Sarr’s maturity and experience in addition to his ability.



  12. 4everUKBlue
    8:55 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Where are you mashbum? You said there was no way Saar would ever suit up for Kentucky.



    • 4everUKBlue
      11:24 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

      Where all of you who said Saar would never step foot on the court for Kentucky? mashbum is either curled up in the fetal position somewhere or out on a ledge. As Van Halen said….Might as well jump. Jump!
      Might as well jump
      Go ahead, jump. Jump!
      Go ahead and jump



    • Bluehender
      6:53 am October 22, 2020 Permalink

      Idk 4ever, maybe he went off the bridge into the Tennessee River down there at Knoxville Saturday. With a few dozen others…



    • 4everUKBlue
      9:37 am October 22, 2020 Permalink

      We can only hope if he did he can’t swim.



  13. dhard
    8:57 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Well finally good news,



  14. UKinIN
    9:51 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    The only thing this news guarantees is that Sarr can play for UK. He was 3rd team ACC and Most Improved but he’s changing conferences, coaches, and playing style. It will take time for him to adjust. He’ll also be on the floor with four other players with a combined one year of college experience. UK could be great but don’t expect it right away.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:22 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

      This must be Dr. Fauci because he’s always a ray of sunshine also.

      Just messing with you, but the glass is half full man.



  15. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
    10:14 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    YES SIR!!!



  16. Section233
    10:45 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Cats are gonna be pretty good this year. Hope Sarr can fill that hole Richards left. If he can give us 12 and 8 every night we’ll make a good run



  17. IrishCat
    11:38 pm October 21, 2020 Permalink

    Depth.



  18. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    5:04 am October 22, 2020 Permalink

    And there goes the 2020 season 😉



  19. CahillsCrossingNT
    6:34 am October 22, 2020 Permalink

    Still won’t make the Final Four, let alone win a title. They don’t have the coaching for that.



    • UKCatAttack
      6:47 am October 22, 2020 Permalink

      John Calipari, Bruiser Flint, and Tony Barber. 3 coaches on our staff with high level D-1 coaching staff experience… I like our coaching staff and our team.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:38 am October 22, 2020 Permalink

      Cahill, the Duke message boards are that way ————————————->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



    • Bluehender
      2:30 pm October 22, 2020 Permalink

      You picked Tennessee to beat us. What do you know??



    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      4:37 pm October 22, 2020 Permalink

      He’s saying the same things on the Duke, UNC, and Louisville boards the only difference is here his trolling, there he’s making an in depth analyst of why the ACC will once again only have one good team this year. The others will make a run till they reach a team not even the refs can help them than they’ll lose.