FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (arkansasrazorbacks.com) – Arkansas men's basketball senior Kikko Haydar will get a chance to live out another dream after graduation, as the two-year Razorback captain has signed a three-year contract to play in his home country of Lebanon for Sagesse in Division A.
The only Lebanese student-athlete to play Division I men's basketball this past season, Haydar will join Sagesse for the playoffs after graduation and his three-year contract will start the following season. Sagesse is currently in first place in Division A with a 13-4 record and just one regular season game remaining. Haydar signed the contract late Monday with his agent Jad Saade, the owner of Jad Saade Basketball Agency, in attendance.
"My time as a Razorback has been unbelievable," said Haydar. "To wear the Arkansas jersey was a dream come true and I will always cherish the times I had as a member of the team. Playing at Arkansas also afforded me the ability to continue my dream of playing basketball and I'm extremely excited to start my career in Lebanon. It is a unique opportunity because I already speak the language and have a lot of family there to support me. I feel like I am leaving home to go home.
"This was an opportunity I couldn't pass up and I'm extremely blessed," continued Haydar. "Arkansas made me who I am and now I want to go make Arkansas proud."
Haydar spent most of his childhood in Fayetteville after his parents moved to Northwest Arkansas to become professors at the University of Arkansas, starting the University Arabic program. Just the third student-athlete in Arkansas history to earn a Bodenhamer Fellowship, Haydar was a four-year member of the Razorbacks, but his role increased in each of his final three years when head coach Mike Anderson took over the program in the spring of 2010.
"Kikko embodies everything we want our student-athletes to be," said Anderson. "He was a leader on and off the court and put every ounce of energy into every single minute he was on the floor. He's a Razorback through and through and I'm very excited for him and his family."
Entering his junior season, Haydar was named the team captain, the first captain Anderson had named since taking over. Over his final two years, he played in 65 games, making the first four starts of his career as a senior, which all resulted in Arkansas wins. Haydar's statistics over his final two years overwhelm his first two, as he hit a three in 36 games over that span, hitting 38 percent (58-153) from beyond the arc with a total of 203 points, 40 steals and 55 assists. As a senior, he reached double figures twice, going for a career-high 15 points in 22 turnover-free minutes at LSU.
Haydar's reach extended off the court too, making an impact on the University of Arkansas as more than a student-athlete. A featured keynote speaker for the groundbreaking of Ozark Hall, the home of the university's honor college, Haydar has maintained a 3.88 grade-point average (GPA) as a Kinesiology major. As president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and four-year member of the Razorback Leadership Academy, he has been part of organizing fundraising events aimed at students and local community members.
A two-year member of the SEC Community Service team, Haydar's community involvement has ranged from local youth events to state-wide initiatives, including volunteering at Youth Bridge, an organization that provides care to troubled teams and their families, and the Arkansas Children's Hospital. He assisted with the Razorback canned food drive and participated in the Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club backpack/school supplies giveaway. Haydar was part of the Razorback basketball team's involvement with the Make-A-Wish foundation as well as taking part in the Champions for Kids walk, assisting with the Special Olympics and serving as a mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Spending time at the schools he grew up in, Haydar participated in both Book Hogs and Read Across America, programs which encourage reading among local elementary school students, helped serve underprivileged children and their families at the Yvonne Richardson Center and participated in the Sweat Hawgs program, which encourages local students to exercise or play at least 30 minutes each day.
Located in Beirut, Lebanon, the Sagesse roster also features former Razorback Charles Thomas (2005-08) is in his first season with Sagesse, leading the team in scoring at 19.3 points per game.