3 Wildcats that Kentucky basketball needs to bring back for the 2024-25 season

Kentucky basketball needs to get older. John Calipari knows this, and he can start by retaining some of the young talent he's brought to Lexington over the past few years, before attacking the transfer portal.
Kentucky guard Justin Edwards (1) and Kentucky forward Adou Thiero (3)
Kentucky guard Justin Edwards (1) and Kentucky forward Adou Thiero (3) / Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY
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3. player. 528. 6'8" 222 lbs. Adou Thiero. . . Sophomore. Adou Thiero, F. Adou Thiero, F

Thiero was far from the most efficient offensive player on the Kentucky roster, but that’s not the expectation. With Reeves, Sheppard, and Dillingham on the floor, Thiero was asked to do the dirty work for the Wildcats and he did it well, averaging 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 0.7 steals. 

In the physical SEC, Kentucky needed a reliable wing defender and both Thiero and Justin Edwards slotted into that role, specifically against Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht. It didn’t always go well for the sophomore against Knecht, but his combination of size and athleticism was crucial on that end of the floor, where Kentucky was a disaster all season long. 

On offense, he was far from a liability, scoring 7.2 points a game, primarily as a slasher or a cutter. For a fast-paced team, 17.7% of his points came on the fast break, which is 92nd percentile in the country. Beyond just scoring, Thiero took care of the ball for a young Kentucky team, with a 94th percentile assist-to-turnover ratio and 89th percentile turnover percentage. 

Thiero looks like he’ll eventually be an NBA draft prospect, but not this season. He’ll be returning to college basketball and Calipari needs to ensure that the Pittsburgh product stays put in Lexington.