Talk of Davion Mintz potentially returning for a second year at Kentucky has been thoroughly discussed in recent weeks, but what about senior forward Olivier Sarr?
Upon announcing his intentions to answer the NCAA transfer portal back in May, Sarr told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello that there was “no way” he would sit out the 2020-21 season had the NCAA declared him ineligible, likely choosing to go overseas to play professionally before giving the NBA a shot the following year.
“I don’t know,” Sarr said. “I could go pro, play one year in the EuroLeague, somewhere to get ready for the NBA. There’s no way I sit out.”
At that point, most assumed Sarr’s transfer was a one-year move before exploring his professional options, no matter the situation.
As we reach the tail-end of this adversity-filled college basketball season, one in which the Wildcats are unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament with an 8-13 record with just three regular season games to go, Sarr isn’t quite sure what his future holds.
When asked about the possibility of taking advantage of the NCAA’s one-time blanket waiver for a free year of eligibility and returning to Kentucky for a second season, Sarr said it’s something he has to think about. As of today, he has no final answers regarding his future plans.
“Right now, we’re on the final home stretch of the season, so my mind is on the end of the season and trying to be the best version of myself every night, every game,” Sarr said Friday afternoon. “I mean, that’s a question that I think about. I don’t have an answer yet. I’m just glad to be here and happy to finish this season.”
No matter the case, Sarr says his time in Lexington has been “amazing,” no matter what the team’s final record ends up being. Through the ups and downs, the native of Bordeaux, France says it’s been a “blessing” to wear a Kentucky jersey.
“Amazing, regardless of the wins or losses. That’s part of the job, you know? It’s a blessing to be able to put on that jersey,” Sarr said. “Four years before that, I never would have thought I’d be in this position today. Not a lot of kids from France get the chance to play for Kentucky or a school like that. I’m blessed, honestly. … It’s an amazing experience.”
His favorite moment as a Wildcat? Learning the NCAA had declared him eligible for the 2020-21 season. At the end of the day, he’s just grateful to be playing right now.
“When I heard I was going to be eligible – we forget, but I’m just grateful to be able to play. Not so long ago, I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to wear a Kentucky jersey,” Sarr said. “That news was, when I heard about it, the reaction from the fanbase and Coach (Cal), it was incredible. It’s a tough year, yes, but I’m grateful I get to experience that at the University of Kentucky.
“It’s tough, a lot of obstacles, but we’re learning so much from that, and I think later in our lives we’ll be grateful for that moment even though it’s hard to get through right now. We feel the support, there are a lot of fans out there that support us. It’s incredible.”
Individually, Sarr has learned how to be a better teammate and take advantage of his versatility under John Calipari at Kentucky.
“My season I think, I learned a lot from Coach. What I realize is that, for me, being able to play the role that Coach wants me to play, and doing it to the best (of my abilities),” he said. “Whether that’s making my teammates better, setting screens, finding them open shots. Or (for me), games I need to score more or get to the free throw line, being a better defender. I learned a lot about the versatility I can bring to a team, and that helped my confidence. That helped me as a player.”
Sarr, who transferred to Kentucky from Wake Forest back in May, is currently averaging 10.5 points on 47.5% from the field, 47.4% from three and 77.0% from the line to go with 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 blocks per contest.
The standout forward will be honored during Kentucky’s Senior Day festivities leading up to the team’s matchup against Florida on Saturday, with tip-off scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.