Report: Wildcats set to reunite with formal top star

Adou Thiero gives a message on the future. He could yet return to the Kentucky basketball team.
Two days after it was announced that Adou Thiero had placed his name into the NCAA transfer portal, the Kentucky basketball player issued a statement regarding his future.

Thiero, a 6-foot-8 forward from Pittsburgh, wrote a message to UK supporters on X on Saturday morning.

“After talking to Coach (John) Calipari, I feel it is best at this time to test the waters professionally, entering my name in the 2024 NBA Draft, while keeping all of my options open, including a return to Kentucky,” he stated in a statement.

. “I’d want to thank the fans, coaches, and teammates for their support over the past two years. I’m looking forward to going through this process and determining my next steps.”

Thiero did not mention the transfer portal in his statement, but the Herald-Leader confirmed Thursday afternoon that he had submitted his name into the pool. Players who enter the 2024 NBA draft will have until May 29 to withdraw their names from consideration while maintaining NCAA eligibility. Thiero is not among the top 100 prospects in this year’s NBA draft, according to ESPN.

Players that register their names into the transfer portal may return to their current colleges, albeit this is not the most typical conclusion.

Calipari has stated in the days following the conclusion of the 2023-24 season that he would welcome any players back from the current roster, and he has also emphasized that the Wildcats must be a more physical team next season. Thiero was one of the UK’s most physical players this season, having played a variety of roles for the Cats over the last two years.

Thiero averaged 7.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game as a sophomore, starting 19 of 25 games and missing eight due to injury, the majority of which were back troubles caused by his continued growth spurt. Thiero will be twenty years old in May.

Calipari has not yet released a public statement or acknowledged Thiero’s possible departure. Thiero is the first of Kentucky’s ten scholarship players with remaining collegiate eligibility to speak out about his basketball future since the Cats lost to Oakland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21.

UK players met with Calipari individually late this week to explore their futures with the program, and announcements on their stay-or-go decisions are expected in the coming days.

“If someone tells me, ‘I’m coming back.’ I’m saying, “In less than eight months, we got the first game of the year.” Let’s go! Just under eight months, and we’ve got the beginning of next year.”

Calipari mentioned this on his radio show Monday night. “Because I want to get this taste out of my month and go forward. So if any of them say that, that will be my response to them.”

Freshman guards Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard are largely expected to be top-10 picks in this year’s NBA draft, while Justin Edwards is regarded as a first-round prospect and D.J. Wagner is rated in the second round. Kentucky’s three 7-footers — Aaron Bradshaw, Zvonimir Ivisic, and Ugonna Onyenso — are not consensus draft picks this year, but they are all on ESPN’s ranking of the top 100 prospects for 2024.

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