Wake Forest center Olivier Sarr says he will enter transfer portal

Sarr rocks the rim for Wake Forest (0:20)

Olivier Sarr drives to the basket for the two-handed jam against Pittsburgh. (0:20)

Wake Forest center Olivier Sarr told ESPN he plans to enter the transfer portal, immediately becoming the most sought-after transfer in the country.

Sarr informed Wake Forest of his plans earlier this week, but the school asked him to wait until it hired a new head coach to replace Danny Manning. After the Demon Deacons hired Steve Forbes on Thursday, Sarr submitted his transfer paperwork. He expects to appear in the portal by Monday at the latest.

"I wanted to test the [NBA draft] waters," Sarr told ESPN on Thursday night. "I requested the UAC [Undergraduate Advisory Committee]. I tried to test the waters, then I had a conversation with Coach and he convinced me to stay and get my degree. He had plans for me, I was going to do great things in the ACC, with the team and individually, of course. It was late April, Coach was going to stay. Then, 24-48 hours before the [draft] deadline, Coach got fired. I didn't get the chance to put my name in and change my mind."

Sarr, a 7-foot France native, will become the top available transfer this spring. He earned third-team All-ACC honors last season after averaging 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Demon Deacons. Sarr tallied 11 double-doubles, was adept at drawing fouls and was one of the best defensive rebounders in the league. He was dominant at times toward the end of the season, scoring 25 points in a win over Duke and following that up with 30 points and 17 rebounds against Notre Dame.

Manning was fired last Saturday after six seasons in Winston-Salem, but Sarr isn't writing off a return to the Demon Deacons. He said he spoke to Forbes on Thursday night.

"It's actually a tough decision," Sarr said. "I want to give Wake Forest a chance and listen to what he has to say. I'm entering the transfer portal because I want to listen to all the options. I want to be able to pick my own coach, not have one chosen for me."

Sarr is one of three Wake players to enter the transfer portal.

"I talked to every player last night; I had an unbelievable visit with Olivier, Ishmael, all those kids we're talking about," said Forbes. "I think it's one of those things that, there's uncertainty at this time and they don't know me, and we have to build a relationship. I told them over and over again, my number-one recruiting responsibility -- priority -- is to get everyone back. None of those guys -- not one player I talked to last night -- said that they did not want to return to Wake. They all have the desire to return; it's just a matter of relationship. And I understand that, and I told them that. And I can understand if you want to look at your options, but you're not gonna look at a better option than Wake. You got the triple-double right here: You got one of the top thirty educations in the country, world-class facilities, and you play in the best league in America."

While Sarr didn't mention any potential destinations to ESPN, one school that has been pursuing big men all spring is Kentucky. Shortly after Manning's departure, Wildcat fans began flooding Sarr's social media pages in an attempt to woo him to Lexington.

"I've never experienced anything like that; it was crazy," he said. "It was funny and all that, but it got to a point where it was a little bit too much. Some Wake fans replied. I loved the loyalty from the Deacon fans. I love them, I appreciate what they did for me for three years. But Kentucky fans are really eager and thirsty for players."

"From what I know, it's a historical program," Sarr added about Kentucky. "It's one of the best programs in the country."

During his three seasons at Wake Forest, Sarr didn't play in a single postseason game, let alone in the NCAA tournament. He wants to experience that at his next school.

"My drive is winning," he said. "Everybody knows there's been some tough years with Wake. I tried my best individually to improve and work on my game, but really, in the next program I'm looking for a winning program. A winning team with ambition. A team that plays with intensity."

Sarr has too many credits remaining to graduate before transferring, but he's hoping to receive a waiver to play immediately. While the NCAA's one-time transfer waiver looks unlikely to go into effect next season, history shows that Manning's late departure and Sarr acquiescing to Wake Forest's delay requests could help him get one anyway. If he's unable to get a waiver and play right away, Sarr has no interest in sitting out next season.

"I don't know," Sarr said. "I could go pro, play one year in the EuroLeague, somewhere to get ready for the NBA. There's no way I sit out."