By KEITH TAYLOR
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Olivier Sarr and Jacob Toppin jumped for joy after receiving news concerning their eligibility late Wednesday.
Sarr and Toppin were cleared to play this season by the NCAA and Southeastern Conference.
“They were both hopping and skipping out of my office after getting the news because they’ve been waiting on this day,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “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 had to overcome a few hurdles to become eligible this season following his transfer from Wake Forest, where he averaged 13.7 points, 9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game last season for the Demon Deacons. A coaching change at the end of the year landed Sarr in Lexington.
“I know this has been difficult for him, everything from the coaching change at Wake Forest, to deciding his future to waiting through this process,” Calipari said. “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, brother of Dayton standout Obi Toppin, averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 rebounds at Rhode Island last year.
“Jacob came here needing a fresh start,” Calipari said. “From Day 1, he’s been a great teammate and been an important part of this group in practice. He has a tremendous upside and a great spirit about him. I know we’re all looking forward to chasing our goals soon.”
Sarr was excited after hearing the news after waiting for more than six months to hear a final decision from the NCAA and league officials.
“I want to start by thanking the NCAA, the SEC and Kentucky for this opportunity,” said Saar. “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 and I want to thank the NCAA and my Kentucky family for their help in this process,” said Toppin. “I can’t wait to get on the court with this group of guys and play in front of our fans.”