After two seasons with Kentucky basketball, Adou Thiero is sticking with John Calipari

Adou Thiero was the first Kentucky basketball player to enter the NCAA transfer portal this offseason.

And now, he’s announced his new college home.

On Monday, Thiero — a 6-foot-8, 222-pound player with two seasons of college basketball experience — announced on Instagram he is following former Kentucky coach John Calipari to Arkansas.

Thiero chose the Razorbacks from a final list of five schools that also included Indiana, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and a return to UK.

Despite being a lightly regarded high school recruit from near Pittsburgh in the 2022 recruiting class, Thiero had an outsized impact on the UK program over the last two seasons. Thiero played sporadically as a freshman, deputizing in a variety of roles for UK due to injuries and other player availability issues on that 2022-23 roster.

Last season as a sophomore, Thiero was one of the best defensive players on the UK team and probably its most physical.

He started 19 of 25 games as a sophomore, missing eight games due to injury and a continued growth spurt. Thiero provided a physicality and toughness that was often praised by Calipari. He also brought a distinct blend of athleticism, size and skill to the court.

“My role — I don’t know. Once again, it changes every game,” Thiero said in March about his role at UK. “Sometimes I have to score. Sometimes it’s just rebounding. Like the Tennessee game, I didn’t really score. I just had a couple of rebounds and blocked shots. But I think if I can just bring energy — always try and get offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, a couple of blocks, some steals — if that’s what I have to do for us to win, then I’ll do that. I think I just gotta come in and play … as hard as I can, and we should be in the right place.”

Thiero averaged 7.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 blocks as a sophomore at Kentucky. He only played seven minutes in his final UK game, a first round NCAA Tournament defeat to Oakland in March.

According to college basketball statistician Evan Miyakawa, Thiero ranked as the No. 132 overall player in the transfer portal, as of Monday afternoon.

Thiero entered the transfer portal while Calipari was still at his former post with UK. Thiero’s father, Almamy, also played for Calipari when he was the coach at Memphis.

The Wildcats hired Mark Pope, the former head coach at BYU and Utah Valley and a key member of UK’s 1996 NCAA championship team, to replace Calipari.

Former Kentucky men’s basketball player Adou Thiero spent two seasons with the Wildcats. Silas Walker/
Former Kentucky men’s basketball player Adou Thiero spent two seasons with the Wildcats. Silas Walker/

Mark Pope constructs his first Kentucky basketball roster

Mark Pope is building his first UK basketball roster from scratch.

Along with Thiero, Aaron Bradshaw (Ohio State), Joey Hart (Ball State) and Zvonimir Ivisic (Arkansas) are players from the 2023-24 Kentucky squad that will transfer to new schools. Additionally, Jordan Burks, Ugonna Onyenso and D.J. Wagner are still in the NCAA transfer portal.

Also from last season’s team, Rob Dillingham, Justin Edwards and Reed Sheppard have declared for the 2024 NBA draft. Tre Mitchell and Antonio Reeves have exhausted their college eligibility.

Five of the six players that Calipari had lined up as part of Kentucky’s 2024 recruiting class decommitted from the UK program and will be going to new schools.

Three of these players — Boogie Fland, Karter Knox and Billy Richmond — have committed to Calipari and Arkansas. Somto Cyril will be going to Georgia and Jayden Quaintance will be going to Arizona State.

In-state guard Travis Perry, the all-time leading scorer in Kentucky high school boys basketball history, is the only recruit who will remain committed to UK and play for Pope.

Perry is one of nine known players on Pope’s first Kentucky basketball roster for next season.

The others are first-year guard Collin Chandler (a former BYU signee), third-year guard Otega Oweh (who previously played two seasons at Oklahoma), fifth-year guards Koby Brea (who previously played four seasons at Dayton), Lamont Butler (who previously played four seasons at San Diego State) and Kerr Kriisa (who previously played at Arizona and West Virginia), fifth-year forward Amari Williams (who previously played four seasons at Drexel), fifth-year forward Andrew Carr (who previously played two seasons each at Delaware and Wake Forest) and second-year center Brandon Garrison (who played last season at Oklahoma State).

May 1 was the deadline for college basketball players (including graduate transfers) to enter the transfer portal. The early-entry deadline for the 2024 NBA draft has also already passed.

Players who entered the draft with remaining NCAA eligibility have until May 29 to remove their names from consideration and return to school.

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