Incoming freshman PF Olivier Sarr is on the France U18 squad that has been competing at the FIBA U18 European Championships this week. Interestingly enough, 2018 wing Jaylen Hoard, a top Wake Forest target for the class is on the team as well, but due to an ankle injury he is out for the tournament.
I had the chance to watch Sarr play in the three games of Group Stage so far and was able to garner a few observations about him, and what Wake Forest fans can expect from him this year and beyond.
France went 2-1 in Group D, defeating Latvia and Slovakia, but falling to Bosnia and Herzegovina. France is playing Finland right now in the Round of 16, where they lead 34-33. Sarr has 5 points, 2 rebounds, a block, and hit a pretty three-pointer.
A link to the game if you are interested in watching the second half can be found here.
Through three games, Sarr is averaging 8.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 1.3 APG. There is a lot of talent on this French team and Sarr isn’t exactly a focal point of the offense. He comes off the bench but has played 19 minutes a game (40 minute games).
I’ll list some things in bullet point format (for reading ease) and then expand a bit below.
- Very active on both ends of the floor.
- Gets up and down the court and looks to run a lot.
- Has a great shot-blocking mentality, and the timing should get better. He is disruptive from what I can tell and blocks should increase over the next couple of years.
- Good form on his jumper that should allow for an occasional mid-range or three-pointer. He also shoots well from the line, which is good because he goes there a fair amount.
- Has a good eye for passing and sees the court well out the post.
- Really good instincts overall with regards to the game.
- His rail-thin body type causes him to get pushed around, even by some smaller guys. Guarding ACC post players this year could be a tough ask.
- He is very raw overall without a refined post game or reliable moves yet. This should come with time though.
- Dribbling can be problematic at times and he has struggled with turnovers (had four in the opening game loss to BIH). Turnovers may be an issue this year.
The first thing that sticks out is how raw of a talent Sarr is. He is rail-thin, but extremely active. He gets up and down the floor well, especially in transition, and has as good sense as to where he needs to be to impact the game.
Much like former Wake big John Collins (I promise I will avoid comparisons like this moving forward), Sarr sets a ton of screens and never stands still on offense.
While there has been a lot of back and forth on whether or not Sarr plugs in at the 4 or the 5, I believe that he has the tools to play a little bit of both.
He is very athletic and has good timing when it comes to blocking shots, but he also has a very good release on his jumper and can hit the occasional three-pointer.
Sarr has a lot of things going for him that you can’t really teach with regards to a high motor and good basketball IQ.
In an ideal world Sarr would get some run in the non-conference schedule and then play spot minutes against ACC competition, but that may not be doable given the lack of players at the 4-5 on the roster. Since Sarr may be asked to play more minutes this season than originally expected I think there will be some growing pains this year.
The staff has a great base to work on with Sarr and I trust Danny Manning to develop him into a big contributor for the next few years. Basically Sarr just needs to move in with Ryan Horn so they can workout and strength train together non-stop.
I am excited about how good Sarr can be for Wake Forest and believe this was a great get for the staff.