Sports
Has Wake Forest landed a new French Superstar?
By
Guest Columnist
Thursday, April 6, 2017

After his official visit on Feb. 11, reports increasingly suggest that Olivier Sarr will suit up as a Demon Deacon for the 2017-2018 basketball season.

Sarr’s 4-star rating from Scout speaks to the talent that Head Coach Danny Manning and his staff have been adding to the Wake Forest basketball program each year. To compliment the talent of top-35 nationally-ranked Chaudee Brown and Melo Eggleston, the addition of Sarr would be one of the more important recruiting pulls that, on the national scale, Manning could make.

Sarr is already included on NBA draft websites due to his large frame and stellar athleticism. The 6’11” Frenchman is also considering Cal, Vanderbilt and Central Florida, yet recently announced that Wake Forest is his favorite. Further, sources close to him say he will likely make his commitment soon. The interest is likely influenced by Manning’s strong reputation for big-man development, as seen this year through the dramatic improvement of John Collins’ post moves and footwork.

Sarr’s playing style warrants praise from analysts for his good mobility, long arms, and athleticism. However, the Frenchman’s offensive skillset remains raw and could benefit from the coaching and development that Manning and his staff would offer. His defensive and rebounding prowess would provide the Demon Deacons a much needed talent boost.

Commonly cited as the main problem area for Manning’s team this past season, Wake Forest’s defense would, at least in the interior, improve with the addition of Sarr. His length and capability to block shots and rebound is what brought Sarr off the bench to play for France’s talented U17 team in the 2016 FIBA World Championships, and could bring much-needed relief to next year’s team, especially if John Collins goes through with his decision to enter the NBA.

If John Collins decides to stay, with the inclusion of Sarr, Wake Forest would have a much more dynamic shot-blocking presence. This past season, Collins provided sporadic defense. His weaknesses were exposed when he had to extend out to guard the perimeter and defend the pick and roll.

Adding Sarr into the mix would allow Collins to stick to guarding the five while Sarr would guard the four. These moves would ultimately allow the Demon Deacons to handle the pick and roll and perimeter game more effectively than they were able to handle this past season.

This past season Wake Forest would occasionally place Austin Arians at the four, which would sometimes create trouble in match-ups against bigger players in the low post. Sarr would bring length to the four or five spot and bring improvements in rebounding on both the offensive and defensive end.

For Wake Forest basketball fans frustrated with the lackluster defense of the Demon Deacons, the future promises to be brighter in that category if Sarr indeed joins the team. The 6’5” Chaundee Brown and the 6’8” Melo Eggleston will add the length needed to guard the perimeter, which should substantially improve Wake Forest’s chances against ACC teams that are more inclined to shoot and make the three.

If the Demon Deacons add Sarr to the team, his defensive ability on the inside, plus his quickness to guard the perimeter, along with Brown and Eggleston’s offensive abilities make this a well- rounded class. Wake Forest fans should be excited about this class, as it should continue the promising trend for Wake Forest basketball.

  • Dean Wormer

    Sarr’s numbers on the French national team in age group international play are less impressive than were Mitiglou’s. He’d be a nice addition but I wouldn’t expect any more from him early on than you saw from Dinos as a frosh. Still, it would be very interesting to see how he develops under Coach Manning’s tutelage.