Report: Tar Heels closing deal to sign Kentucky Wildcats forward

Tar Heels Pursuing Kentucky Transfer. Adou Thiero, a physical forward, started 19 games for the Wildcats last season.
North Carolina has been keeping a close eye on Kentucky forward Adou Thiero since he entered the transfer portal three weeks ago. The Tar Heels are now in full chase.

According to sources close to the matter, the UNC staff has communicated to Thiero and his family several times in recent days that they intend to sign the 6-foot-8, 222-pound sophomore regardless of the selections made by the current roster this summer.

ESPN reported on Friday that the Tar Heels are one of five contenders for Thiero, along with Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Pittsburgh.

Thiero started 19 games for the Wildcats in 2023-24, averaging 7.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks. These rebounding and blocks averages ranked second on the squad. Kentucky finished the season 23-10, losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing head coach Calipari this offseason.

Thiero’s sophomore season, which included a month out due to a back ailment sustained in late December, was highlighted by 16 points and 13 rebounds (both season highs) in a Nov. 14 defeat to Kansas. In a loss to Gonzaga on February 10, he scored 15 points on six made shots, a season high. Thiero had seven points, four blocks, and two assists in the UK’s 87-83 triumph over the Tar Heels on December 16.

“He’s the person who likes to change it up, but Adou’s done some terrific work. “He’s improved so much,” Calipari stated on his radio broadcast late in the season. “Everything in front of him that he needs to deal with requires effort. Getting into the gym requires commitment. Everything is there for him. So, he’s improved dramatically.”

Thiero’s late-stage growth spurt has been important to his development. As a senior at Leetsdale (Pa.) Quaker Valley, he grew more than four inches to 6-foot-5 and committed to Kentucky late in the recruiting cycle. He is considered the No. 20 combo guard and No. 138 overall talent in the 2022 class. Since moving to Lexington, that growth has continued.

“He’s not even what he was a year ago,” Calipari explained in February. “I still think he’ll be 6’9.” He’s approximately 6-7, maybe a little larger now. By next year, he’ll be 6-9.”

Thiero is regarded as the No. 18 player in 247Sports’ transfer portal.

“Thiero has developed tremendously at Kentucky and has particularly intrigued NBA scouts,” 247Sports national basketball analyst Travis Branham wrote last month. “One year from now, we could be talking about Thiero as … a first-round NBA draft pick.”

Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Gonzaga, Indiana, Miami, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pittsburgh, and Texas A&M have all contacted Thiero since he entered the portal on March 28.

Thiero issued the following statement on March 30: “After speaking with Coach Calipari, I believe it is prudent at this moment to test the waters professionally by registering my name in the 2024 NBA Draft, while leaving all of my options open, including returning to Kentucky. 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.”

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