Olivier Sarr, Jacob Toppin granted waivers by the NCAA to play this season

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Olivier Sarr, Jacob Toppin granted waivers by the NCAA to play this season

Olivier Sarr.Men’s basketball practice. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

A sigh of relief can be heard all across Big Blue Nation as the NCAA has deemed Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr eligible to play this coming season for the Cats.

Sarr decided to transfer to Kentucky back in early May, as he had opted out of the NBA Draft and did not want to play for the Demon Deacons anymore once his coach Danny Manning was fired. For a month, the situation was at a patient ease as many around the program and in college basketball felt almost for sure that Sarr would be deemed eligible. Only that would change…

The French big-man’s eligibility for this coming season became less certain whenever the NBA created another period that gave college basketball players a second chance to declare for the NBA Draft now being held on Oct. 16. This not only gave Sarr another opportunity to declare for the draft, but took away Kentucky’s biggest argument for his eligibility at the time being that he did not have enough time to make a decision whether to enter the draft or not once former Wake Forest Head Coach Danny Manning was fired.

That ultimately led to months of impatient concern as to whether Sarr would be deemed eligible for this coming season, but the NCAA yet had mercy on the Cats and Sarr, thus granting him a waiver to play.

As a 7-foot force around the rim, the confirmed addition of Sarr to the 2020-21 roster addresses the need for a big-man in the middle on the team. The former Demon Deacon averaged 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game this past season, earning himself a spot on the All-ACC Third Team.The combination of those numbers and his presence around the rim are exactly what Kentucky was looking for to complete the roster.

Along with the announcement that Sarr would be eligible to play, Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin was also granted a waiver. While he will likely not have as big of an impact on the team this season as Sarr, he has shown a lot of potential through his athleticism. He also scored in double figures five times in his freshman year with Rhode Island, and can potentially have a key role for seasons to come.

Overall, it was a big night for the Cats and their national title hopes.

 

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