Wake Forest Coach Steve Forbes Rips Kentucky Academics in Olivier Sarr Pitch

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Steve Forbes of the East Tennessee State Buccaneers watches his team in the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center on December 15, 2018 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Steve Forbes has been Wake Forest's head coach for less than a full week, but he hasn't wasted any time in potentially making himself some enemies.

Demon Deacons center Olivier Sarr entered the transfer portal last Friday, with ESPN's Jeff Borzello noting Kentucky would likely be a suitor for the 7-footer.

In an interview with WSJS Sports Hub based in North Carolina, Forbes sent a shot across the bow of the Wildcats: "Why would you go to Wake for three years and put all that time in to get this prestigious degree and then end up getting your degree at a place like Kentucky? That's what I told him."

Josh Graham @JoshGrahamRadio

Here’s Steve Forbes on re-recruiting Olivier Sarr: “He’s our No. 1 recruit ... Why would go to Wake for 3 years and put all that time in to get this prestigious degree, then get your degree at a place like Kentucky? That’s what I told him.” @SportsHubTriad https://t.co/IqQULEBuvs

Forbes, who coached the last five seasons at East Tennessee State, added he meant "no disrespect to Kentucky" and "I obviously respect" the Wildcats. However, that's unlikely to change how his comment will be read in Lexington.

U.S. News & World Report placed Wake Forest 27th in its 2020 ranking of the best colleges, with Kentucky coming in 132nd. Granted, some question the value of the annual list as a barometer for the quality of education a student receives.

Forbes can't exactly lean on Wake Forest's on-court reputation in a competition with Kentucky.

The Demon Deacons have made the NCAA tournament once since 2010 and finished with a winning record just twice during that span. Wake, which finished 13-18 last season, fired former star player Danny Manning after six years.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, are a tournament mainstay and regularly send players on to the NBA. The school had three players (PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson) selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA draft.

Sarr was second on Wake in scoring (13.7) and first in rebounds (9.0) as a junior in 2019-20.

Losing him to Kentucky or another school would be a big blow for Forbes as he looks to turn the program around. If Forbes can convince the Frenchman to stick around, it would be a great endorsement for his vision in 2020-21 and beyond.