Anthony Davis is a role model to many, new Kentucky big man Olivier Sarr included.
During Sarr’s introduction to the media during Wednesday’s Zoom call, Sarr said he looks to former Kentucky big man (and now NBA champion) Anthony Davis for how to play the game.
“Currently, I really like Anthony Davis,” Sarr admitted, when asked to name NBA stars he studies. “I try to model my game after him. He’s a great defender. He can guard 1 through 5 and that’s something I try to incorporate in my game. But he’s also a stretch 5, one of the best centers in the league and an NBA champion.”
(An NCAA champion too, I’ll add.)
Sarr also watches a lot of film of former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the all-time great post players in NBA history. A good post player in his own right at the college level, Sarr takes notes on the Dream’s footwork and defense.
Sarr hopes to one day find his own success in the league and noted the Kentucky program’s professional approach is new after his three years at Wake Forest.
“Here, the emphasis is really on helping the players be professionals as soon as possible,” Sarr said. “When you look back at every team, Kentucky guys don’t stay four years, most of the time. I’d say that’s the biggest difference and it changes everything from a coaching standpoint.”
If Sarr reaches his NBA dreams, he will be another example of international basketball success in the league. Right now Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are three stars from Europe, to only name a few, and Sarr sees the meshing of the two different playing styles as the reason behind European players’ place in American pro basketball.
“Europe is on the rise,” Sarr noted. “I think the game is really different even though it is changing now in Europe. There’s so many (things) that are different. The way you play over there—here, it’s really more if you can make a difference individually, as soon as you can you go and take your guy. Over there, it’s more set plays and fundamentals and a slower pace, finding the best shot you can take every possession.
“It’s a different approach but I think mixing both really makes a difference and I think that’s why guys from Europe are making a difference in the league now.”
Sarr will have his shot at the NBA once his time at Kentucky is done. But first he has the upcoming 2020-21 season in Lexington, and if he wants to be Anthony Davis, he can start by raising a banner in his one-and-done year under Calipari.