The Kentucky Wildcats are going to have such an athletic, long, and talented team taking the floor in 2022-23. One area that the Cats are loaded at is in the backcourt as they returned talent and brought in some of the best freshmen and transfers in the country.
One of the new freshmen is kind of a wildcard as many are not sure what to expect this season from combo guard Adou Thiero, who committed to the Cats back in May.
- Height: 6-foot-6
- Weight: 200 lbs.
- Hometown: Leetsdale, Pa.
- Position: Guard
- Recruiting Ranking: 3-star recruit ranked No. 165 overall and No. 23 among combo guards in the class of 2022 via 247 Sports Composite.
Thiero is the son of Almamy Thiero who John Calipari coached for three seasons at Memphis before he transferred to finish his college career at Duquesne.
When Thiero committed to Kentucky, Calipari released a statement praising his senior year and compared him to two former Wildcats that came and developed into great players.
“I am excited to have Adou join our program. He is a great kid who comes from a terrific family,” Calipari said. “Adou is a winner who fought through some adversity last summer and then led his team to the state championship game.
“Much like Dom (Dominique Hawkins) and Derek (Willis), Adou understands the grind and process of development here. He knows nothing will be easy, but he has great size and has the makeup of the kind of guard who excels here, someone who can play on the ball or off and can finish at the rim in a variety of ways. I can’t wait to coach him and help him reach his goals.”
Here is what Calipari had to say of Thiero at Kentucky’s recent Media Day.
“He’s (Thiero) behind some of the other guys, but so was Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander). So you can take it like Shai or Immanuel Quickley. And every time you perform you prove you should be playing, or you don’t.
“Now Adou, like I said, it’s all the other stuff. The biggest thing he did is he made jump shots, which he hasn’t made. But he made ‘em in that. And I told him I was proud of him. And he went in with an attitude that, I’m going at dudes. And he did. And he’s physically able to do it. He’s still growing.”
Speaking of Thiero’s growth, that’s been nothing short of incredible to watch unfold.
“I was 6-foot as junior, 6-5 as senior, and now I’m 6-6, and I’m still growing,” Thiero said in July. “I saw the X-rays, so I know my growth plate is still wide open. They told me three to five more inches.”
Kentucky’s current roster lists Thiero at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds. The belief is he could get into the 6-foot-8 range before his growing finally stops.
Adou is an interesting addition for the Cats, as he put together a great senior season in high school, averaging 23.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 3.9 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game. He led Quaker Valley to a 27-1 overall record and scored 18 points in the 2022 PIAA Boys’ Basketball Championship which was the team’s lone loss of the season.
Thiero finished his high school career with 1,624 points which ranked as the third most in team history. In a matchup against Hopewell, he poured in 44 points to break the school’s single-game scoring record.
Heading into the team’s preseason trip to the Bahamas, no one knew what to expect from Thiero, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Thiero played in all four games and averaged 6.3 points while shooting 58% from the field and 50% from three, going 3-6.
He also showed that he is a willing passer and isn’t afraid to crash the glass for rebounds, as he finished with seven assists and 12 total rebounds during the trip.
What stood out the most was the impact he had on the defensive end of the court. Through the four games, he tallied seven steals and five blocks. Calipari loves defense, and that is going to be how Thiero gains minutes this season.
It is likely safe to say that Thiero is going to be behind Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, Antonio Reeves, CJ Fredrick, and Chris Livingston when it comes to playing time.
However, if he can do what we saw in the Bahamas, it only adds more depth to this team and gives Calipari another reliable player in case the Cats get bit by the injury bug like we saw last season.