LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Kentucky men’s basketball senior forward Olivier Sarr announced Tuesday he will forgo his remaining collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2021 NBA Draft.
Sarr spent a season at UK after transferring from Wake Forest. He averaged 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game for the Wildcats and led the team with three double-doubles.
“I want to thank my parents, my brother, my entire family and support circle for believing in me every step of the way,” Sarr said. “I have been blessed during my four years of college to have learned from two great coaches in Coach John Calipari and Coach Danny Manning and alongside teammates that I consider brothers for a lifetime. I am so grateful to have played at Kentucky, and I want to thank all the staff and passionate fans for preparing me for the next step of my journey.
“After years of hard work and dedication, I will be graduating and pursuing my professional career by declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft. I am so excited about what the future holds and ready to take on new challenges. I will forever be a part of ‘La Familia.’ ”
Sarr is the fourth player from the 2020-21 Kentucky roster to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft. Freshman guards Brandon Boston Jr. and Terrence Clarke have renounced their college eligibility and have submitted their names for the 2021 NBA Draft. Freshman Isaiah Jackson declared his NBA Draft intentions as well but is leaving open the option to return to school.
“I am so happy for Olivier and excited to see what he does with this next step in his journey,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “Olivier really improved himself this season, yet he still has a ton of room to grow and has the type of skills that translate to that next level. At the end of the day, you are talking about a 7-foot skilled big man who can shoot it and block shots. He is only going to get better.
“I wish Olivier had the opportunity this past year to enjoy a normal season here with a summer to build additional strength, but he had a plan and stuck with it throughout this whole process. He has a maturity about him that will serve him well entering the NBA. Olivier has my full support, and I can’t wait to watch him tackle this next phase of his career.”
Sarr played a leading role for the 2020-21 Wildcats by way of production and leadership. One of three team captains, Sarr played and started in all 25 games this past season with 14 double-figure scoring games and four double-digit rebounding performances.
After transferring from Wake Forest, where he averaged 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game during the 2019-20 season, Sarr embraced a leadership role with Kentucky and did a little bit of everything to help a young and inexperienced group.
Sarr shot 47.0% from the floor this season and a career-best 79.1% from the free-throw line. The 7-footer also showed range from the outside with a career-high 12 3-pointers on 46.2% shooting. Sarr led UK in blocks in eight games.
The Frenchman played his best basketball down the stretch, scoring in double figures in nine of the final 12 games, including 14 or more points in the last three games.
Sarr’s best statistical performance this season was a 24-point, seven-rebound effort in the home victory vs. Vanderbilt. He made 5 of 10 from the floor and 14 of 17 from the free-throw line, both career bests. He also scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in a near-incredible comeback vs. Notre Dame.
Other notable performances include 14 points and 12 rebounds in the double-overtime victory at Mississippi State, 17 points and 11 rebounds vs. Richmond, and 13 points and 10 boards against Arkansas. During a four-game stretch in early February vs. Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Auburn, he went 7 for 11 from 3-point range.
At Wake Forest, Sarr played in 85 career games with 31 starts. He was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference Third Team selection and the runner-up for ACC Most Improved Player in 2019-20.
Sarr did more than contribute on the court. In addition to his team captaincy responsibilities, he was one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which honors student-athletes who excel in four areas: character, competition, classroom and community service. He was named to the Southeastern Conference Community Service Team for his service in his time at Wake Forest and Kentucky.
In May, Sarr will graduate with a degree communication.
Since Calipari joined the Kentucky program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 41 NBA Draft picks over 11 seasons, far and away more than any other school. Included in the 41 are 31 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall picks and 21 lottery selections.
Of the 66 players who have finished their college careers at Kentucky under Calipari (through the 2019-20 season), 41 were selected in the NBA Draft, a 62.1% success rate. Another six of those made the NBA, and the majority of the rest were walk-ons.
Calipari’s players are not only reaching the next level, they are succeeding when they do. Since 2010, eight of his players have garnered 26 All-Star selections. Derrick Rose (from Memphis) was named league MVP in 2011. Five of his players have been tabbed All-NBA (Rose, John Wall, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Karl-Anthony Towns), three have been named NBA Rookie of the Year (Rose, Tyreke Evans and Towns), and 14 players from Calipari’s first 10 teams at Kentucky have made the NBA All-Rookie teams.