Kentucky fans are anxiously awaiting Olivier Sarr news, and for good reason. The Wake Forest transfer averaged 13.7 points, nine rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game for the Demon Deacons last season, received all-ACC honors and is being touted as the linchpin for UK’s Final Four hopes and dreams this season. He’s the last real, remaining question mark for Kentucky’s 2020-21 roster.
But he’s not the only remaining question mark in college basketball. And Kentucky isn’t the only program waiting for a decision from the NCAA, either. Not even close.
Minnesota still doesn’t know about Liam Robbins or Both Gach. Memphis doesn’t know about Landers Nolley or DeAndre Williams (yes, the Evansville transfer who was, at one point, considering Kentucky as a new landing spot). Iowa State doesn’t know whether or not Blake Hinson or Tyler Harris will be able to suit up for the team this season. Texas Tech is also waiting on not one, but two decisions from the NCAA: Mac McClung and Jamarius Burton are both still question marks themselves.
Here’s the other thing: four of those eight players committed to their “new” schools before Olivier Sarr signed on the dotted line for Kentucky. The NCAA isn’t always reasonable, but it would be plausible to expect those players will hear their fate before Sarr hears his own.
But what about all of the players who have been ruled eligible? In the last week, five college basketball players have received notice of their approved waivers by the NCAA. All five committed to their new schools before Olivier Sarr announced he’d be transferring to UK.
Another transfer is immediately eligible
BUT hear me out… As I said on @hey_kentucky last night, these decisions are consistently taking 3 months. Knapper committed to EKU on April 10. Olivier Sarr? May 6. I’ll start getting antsy by the end of next week. Not yet https://t.co/FmkI4OT6zX
— Maggie Davis (@MaggieDavisKSR) July 30, 2020
Ian Steere will play for UNC-Wilmington this year. He announced that commitment on March 30, and he was ruled immediately eligible on July 27.
Aanen Moody will be immediately eligible for Southern Utah this season. He signed with the school on April 13 and heard the good news from the NCAA on July 28.
Alonde LeGrand also got good news that day. He committed to North Florida on April 29 and received his waiver on July 28.
Rodney Howard? One day later. The former Georgia Bulldog will be able to suit up for in-state rival Georgia Tech this season. He committed to Tech on March 24 and was ruled immediately eligible on July 29.
Finally, Brandon Knapper. He’s coming to the Bluegrass this season to play for Eastern Kentucky. He signed with the Colonels on April 10 and received his waiver on July 30.
What do these five young men have in common, other than their ability to play for a new team this season? The more-specific common thread actually comes in the timeline itself – each of these players and their respective programs waited three months for a decision from the NCAA. In fact, only LeGrand got a decision sooner than that three-month threshold – he waited for two months and 29 days.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Johnny Juzang, oddly enough, was granted immediate eligibility in a little over a month’s time. He signed with UCLA on April 16 and received his waiver on May 27.
Back to Olivier Sarr. The big man committed to the Wildcats on May 6. That means Kentucky is still a few days shy of reaching that typical (Juzang excluded) three-month mark that means a decision should be here shortly. It’s expected Kentucky applied for a waiver not long after Sarr made things official – they could have even had the paperwork ready to go by the time Sarr publicly announced his decision to join the BBN. Either way, it couldn’t have taken long.
August 6 is the date I’m circling on my calendar. That’s not because I have scoop; I don’t have any “insider information” coming from within the NCAA. However, I can see a pattern, and I know he announced his commitment on May 6.
When your fandom revolves around one specific athletics department and the players competing for that singular program, it’s easy to be frustrated. It’s understandable.
What’s taking them so long? Why haven’t we heard anything yet? Can he play or not? Why does the NCAA hate us?
But don’t forget about Minnesota. Don’t forget about Iowa State. Don’t forget about Memphis or Texas Tech. The list of players and programs I mentioned at the start of this article isn’t even totally inclusive – there are others who are waiting on decisions, too. There’s also Tyrese Martin for UConn, Alan Griffin for Syracuse, LJ Figueroa at Oregon… 247Sports compiled a list of traditional (non-graduate) transfers here, and many of them are still hoping for immediate eligibility. Of course, this is just for men’s basketball. Women’s programs are waiting on decisions, too.
This could have all been avoided – it could have been so simple! – if the NCAA had approved the one-time transfer eligibility rule for this season, rather than tabling the discussion (and subsequent vote) for the 2021-22 school year. But they didn’t, and so it isn’t.
There are a lot of question marks remaining in college basketball this year. Olivier Sarr is a huge one. To be fair, so is the coronavirus. But don’t get too antsy just yet. At least wait until August 6.