John Calipari loses first Kentucky basketball player to the transfer portal

On Thursday, Kentucky sophomore Adou Thiero entered his name into the transfer portal. The 6-foot-8 wing played just seven minutes in the NCAA Tournament loss to Oakland.
Kentucky Wildcats guard Adou Thiero (3)
Kentucky Wildcats guard Adou Thiero (3) / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Kentucky basketball season came to an end, John Calipari has publicly contemplated changes to his roster-building philosophy. Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart is sticking Coach Cal, but the program won't look the same next season. Those changes are centered around attacking the transfer portal and getting older, but on Thursday, Coach Cal lost a veteran presence from his roster. 

Sophomore forward, Adou Thiero entered the portal on Thursday night, and there are reports that Pitt has already contacted the Pittsburgh native about a return home, to the city where Kentucky’s season ended in the Round of 64. 

Not only is Kentucky losing a player with two years of experience, something Calipari’s chronically freshman-laden rosters desperately need, but he’s losing a key defender. Kentucky finished the 2023-24 season 340th in opponent points per game, allowing 79.7, and ranked 211th in defensive efficiency. 

Calipari recruited Thiero out of Quaker Valley High School near Pittsburgh as a three-star recruit, the head coach’s western Pennsylvania connections paying off with a two-year contributor. This past season, Thiero blossomed into the Wildcat’s primary wing defender, taking on the challenge of slowing down the SEC’s best, like Dalton Knecht from Tennessee. 

In his final season in Lexington, the 6-foot-8 wing averaged 7.2 points, and 5.0 rebounds and started 19 of 25 games. However, in the season-ending loss to Oakland, he played just seven minutes, scoring two points. Tre Mitchell’s return from injury phased Thiero out of the rotation and may have ultimately pushed him out of the door. 

This decision from Thiero makes Coach Cal’s offseason rebuild that much harder and has to be matched by a portal addition for the Wildcats to compete in the SEC next season.

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