One of the biggest storylines of the offseason has been the growth of Kentucky Wildcats sophomore guard Adou Thiero.
Growth both physically and in terms of his skills.
The sophomore will look to build off a freshman campaign in which he showed some glimpses of his ability but was still developing physically.
#3 Adou Thiero
- Position: Shooting guard
- Class: Sophomore
- Measurements: 6-foot-8, 222 lbs.
- Hometown: Leetsdale, PA
- School: Quaker Valley
- High School Recruit Rankings: No. 169 nationally and No. 25 CG via 247 Sports Composite.
Coming out of high school, Adou Thiero was not a top recruit. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound combo guard was viewed by most recruiting services as a three-star prospect with a limited offer sheet.
His father, Almamy Thiero, played for John Calipari at Memphis, so the connection was there, and Calipari and the coaching staff saw a player still growing into his body but with guard skills.
As a freshman, Thiero saw action in 20 games, showcasing his defensive skills by leading the team in steals in four of those games and leading the team in blocks in three games.
Thiero’s best performance came in arguably Kentucky’s biggest win of the season at Arkansas, where he recorded a season-high seven points, five rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Still, Adou clearly needed some development and more time in the gym.
In the offseason, he has done just that.
Adou is now listed at 6-foot-8 and 222 pounds and looks completely different than a season ago. At his size, with guard skills, he will create a lot of mismatches on the floor.
NFL strong safety or basketball player who was 5-foot-10 two years ago?— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 25, 2023
Adou Thiero’s stature is jarring.
“I can get through bumps now — and cause the bumps.” pic.twitter.com/XbQpvCJNWD
On the court, despite his limited experience last season, Thiero will be a veteran on this young Kentucky team.
Those defensive abilities are still there, and now at his size, Thiero will have the ability to guard multiple positions on the floor. That versatility and ability to play multiple positions should lead to a much-expanded role.
That’s become even more paramount with the absence of Aaron Bradshaw and Ugonna Onyenso due to injury, while Zvonimir Ivisic has yet to be cleared by the NCAA. Thiero has spent a lot of time at the 4 spot in the exhibition season, and that figures to continue as long as those other three big men are out.
Another area Thiero should make a big impact at is finishing around the rim, according to John Calipari.
“The role I have been talking to Adou about is to be a finisher, whether it’s a jump shot or a drive for a basket. He’s strong. He literally could be one of the best finishers in the country,” Cal stated.
It’s hard to find a player who can actually play all five spots on the floor, but Thiero is fully capable of this, though he’ll be mostly in the frontcourt early on with the backcourt already deep.
So far, Thiero has shown notable improvement from last season. During Kentucky’s run to the gold medal in GLOBL JAM, Thiero did a little bit of everything on the court, averaging 7.5 points, nearly six rebounds, three assists, almost two steals, and more than one block per game.
And in Kentucky’s first exhibition game against Georgetown, Thiero led the team in +/- at +26 on the night.
In fact, Thiero (+106) ranks second on the team in combined +/- through six exhibition games (four GLOBL Jam games and two home games vs. Georgetown College and Kentucky State), trailing only Tre Mitchell (+144).
WE HAVE CUMULATIVE STATISTICS— WT - Adou Enthusiast (@WildcatsTongue) November 3, 2023
Here are all the stats from GLOBL Jam and the two exhibitions. What stands out to you? pic.twitter.com/Yri9a7zYsl
And going into the season, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports said he is hearing a lot of positive feedback about the sophomore guard.
Highly placed spies in Lexington believe that Adou Thiero is primed to play a major role for Kentucky as an ancillary piece to the Wildcats' puzzle. Dominique Hawkins at 6-6? In the same mold, for sure.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) October 26, 2023
We’ll have to see what Thiero does when the competition gets tougher, but he certainly looks the part so far, and we've seen several players take a big leap from their freshman to sophomore years in the past at Kentucky.
Thiero most likely isn’t going to be a guy who comes out and leads the Wildcats in scoring night in and night out, but this Kentucky team certainly can use a guy with his size who is willing to defend multiple positions, work hard on the glass, and create offensive mismatches with his size and athleticism.
Pieces like that can take a team from good to great, and I think that’s a role that Thiero can fill this season.