Olivier Sarr and Jacob Toppin deemed eligible for upcoming season


Graphic of Olivier Sarr and Jacob Toppin. The two Kentucky basketball transfers were ruled eligible for the 2020-2021 season by the NCAA and SEC on Wednesday evening.Graphic from UK Athletics.

Braden Ramsey

While the NCAA and SEC ruled on many athlete transfer cases in the past months, two of Kentucky basketball’s biggest acquisitions were biding their time, waiting for their turn to come. Today, they – and Big Blue Nation – saw their wishes granted.

This evening, the NCAA and SEC deemed Olivier Sarr and Jacob Toppin immediately eligible for the 2020-2021 season, giving the Cats’ typical predominantly-youthful roster a much-needed infusion of experience.

“I want to start by thanking the NCAA, the SEC and Kentucky for this opportunity,” Saar said in a UK press release. “I am excited to finish my college career in front of the Big Blue Nation and chase No. 9 with my team.”

“This is a big day for me,” Toppin said in the press release. “I want to thank the NCAA and my Kentucky family for their help in this process… I can’t wait to get on the court with this group of guys and play in front of our fans.”

The big men join Creighton graduate transfer Davion Mintz as versed additions to Coach Calipari’s crew.

“I’m excited for Olivier and Jacob… they were both hopping and skipping out of my office after getting the news because they’ve been waiting on this day,” Kentucky’s head coach said in the press release. “I want to thank the NCAA and the SEC for considering the unique circumstances surrounding this season and we appreciate them working with us throughout this process.”

Sarr transferred to Kentucky from Wake Forest back in May following the school’s firing of head coach Danny Manning. The seven-footer was considered one of the nation’s top transfers after averaging a near double-double (13.7 points, nine rebounds) and 1.2 blocks per game during his junior season in Winston-Salem.

“I know this has been difficult for [Olivier], everything from the coaching change at Wake Forest to deciding his future to waiting through this process,” Calipari said in the press release. “He’s gone about his business every day and continued to work hard in hopes of joining his teammates on the floor this winter.”

Toppin, who is the younger brother of Wooden Award winner and expected top-ten NBA draft pick Obi Toppin, came to Kentucky from Rhode Island back in April. The 6-foot-8 forward suited up in all 30 of the Rams’ games last season, recording 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest.

“Jacob came here needing a fresh start,” Coach Cal said in the press release. “From day one, he’s been a great teammate and been an important part of this group in practice. He has tremendous upside and a great spirit about him.”

With Keion Brooks Jr. as Calipari’s only returning regular contributor from a season ago, the Cats are tasked with replacing the vast majority of its scoring, rebounding, assist and block totals. The addition of Toppin, Sarr and Mintz to a squad featuring its usual top prospects is sure to not only provide statistical production, but stability and an invaluable veteran presence.