The outlook for Kentucky’s 2020-21 basketball season got significantly brighter on Wednesday when the program announced that Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr will be eligible for the upcoming season. The 7-footer finished second behind North Carolina’s Garrison Brooks in the voting for the ACC’s Most Improved Player as a junior last season after averaging 13.7 points, nine rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He also hit a career-best 52.7% of his shots.
Sarr will be the Wildcats’ likely starter at center as Kentucky enters the season laden with youth and light on big men. Sarr announced in May that he planned to transfer to Kentucky after Wake Forest’s coaching transition from Danny Manning to Steve Forbes. Kentucky, however, was awaiting SEC clearance for Sarr to play immediately.
Kentucky also announced that Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin will be eligible immediately after he averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Rams as a freshman last season. He is the younger brother of Obi Toppin, who led Dayton to a 29-2 record last season before declaring for the NBA Draft.
Sarr and Toppin being ruled eligible will add depth and maturity to a Kentucky team welcoming the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class to campus. The six-man class is highlighted by top-10 prospects BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke, both of whom are wings. While freshmen Isaiah Jackson and Lance Ware are listed at 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-9, respectively, they would likely have been asked to carry a heaven burden in the paint as they adjusted to the college game if Sarr had not been eligible.