Quaker Valley’s Adou Thiero named 2022 TribLive HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Year

Monday, April 4, 2022 | 10:26 PM

2022 TribLive HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Year

Adou Thiero

Quaker Valley

6-foot-6, Senior, Guard

When your father played college ball for John Calipari and your mother was selected in the WNBA draft, you grow up knowing basketball might be in your future.

Adou Thiero liked that idea.

“I definitely had something to prove,” said the Quaker Valley senior. “It wasn’t pressure or anything. But it was mostly like, ‘OK. You need to do something. Both of your parents played college basketball, so you’ve got to get there too.’”

Almamy Thiero played for Calipari at Memphis in the early 2000s before transferring to Duquesne, and Mariam Sy starred at NAIA school Oklahoma City and was drafted by the Washington Mystics in 2006.

His parents both are from Mali, West Africa, and each has coached at Sewickley Academy.

Yet, this winter, Adou Thiero made a name for himself on the basketball court. The 6-foot-6 point guard was a difference maker on both ends of the floor by driving to the basket and defending the rim as Quaker Valley went 27-1, won the WPIAL Class 4A title and finished as the state runner-up.

Thiero averaged 23.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 3.9 steals and 2.3 blocks per game, a remarkable two-way effort that makes him the 2022 TribLive HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Under the bright lights of the Petersen Events Center, Thiero scored 31 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked seven shots in a 61-52 victory over Montour in the WPIAL finals, all while playing with a fractured thumb.

Here’s another stat to show just how difficult he was to stop with the ball in his hands: Thiero attempted 238 free throws this season, an average of 8.5 per game, and made 77%. He twice shot more than 20 in a game, including a season-high 25 attempts in a win over Highlands.

Yet, Thiero hasn’t always stood head-and-shoulders above everyone else. Three years ago, Quaker Valley’s roster listed him as a 5-foot-11 freshman and he entered junior year at just 6-1. His dad stands 6-9 and his mom is 6-4, yet Thiero admits he wondered if he’d ever grow taller.

“I wasn’t very confident because my siblings were growing but not me,” he said. “It was kind of nerve-wracking a little bit.”

His growth spurt came after his junior season, and college coaches have taken notice. His newfound height combined with his already refined ball skills earned him Division I offers from Pitt, Kentucky, Maryland and Cincinnati in recent days.

Calipari, now at Kentucky, traveled to Hershey and watched from the Giant Center seats as Thiero played in the PIAA Class 4A final March 24. Calipari offered him a spot at Kentucky two days later, and the Panthers, Terrapins and Bearcats joined his list shortly after.

“It was definitely a great feeling that they recognized the work that I’ve put in,” Thiero said. “It was good to see some high-major schools are interested in me.”

He already held offers from Duquesne, UC Santa Barbara and Long Island. The NCAA recruiting calendar has a dead period that runs until noon Thursday. After that period ends, Thiero intends to take some campus visits in the near future.

What was your favorite memory from this season?

Definitely winning the WPIAL championship. As soon as the buzzer went off everybody got up and started cheering — the whole team — and we started jumping together. That was just a great night.

What motivated your team to win?

I think it was us seniors feeling the hurt our freshman year (when QV lost in the WPIAL finals) and witnessing how sad the seniors were. That made us want it even more. We made that our goal. We wanted to come in and win it.

What makes you so good at drawing fouls?

I learned it from AAU. When I was younger, I was always smaller than everyone else. I was always playing two years up. I took that (mindset) and it stuck with me.

In a way, did you become a better player because you weren’t 6-6 as a freshman?

I definitely did. I was smaller than everyone and still finding ways to score. Now that I’m taller than most people, it should be easy for me to score.

You blocked more shots this year (65) than your first three seasons combined (38). Is that a skill you’ve worked on?

I think my genetics and my athleticism kicked in. Everything went up a little bit. My hand-eye coordination was already there. It was a matter of not having the height to block a shot.

Which excites you more, a dunk or a block?

Definitely dunk.

What was your favorite road gym to play in?

New Castle. It was always packed and the energy was always there.

Is there an NBA player you like to watch or pattern your game after?

Ja Morant. I don’t really pattern my game after him, but he’s definitely someone I like now. His explosiveness and how he’s able to get to the hoop, finish and create for his teammates.

Who will win the NCAA National Championship?

I wanted UNC to win (in the Final Four), so I’ll have to go with UNC again. I want my boy Puff (Johnson of Moon) to get one.

Besides food and water, what are three things you’d want to have on a deserted island?

Definitely someone to play basketball with. I’d have to bring a game system with me. And probably my phone.

What are your three favorite meals?

Shrimp or chicken Alfredo — they’re both good. I like teriyaki chicken. And wings.

If your team had a talent show, who would win?

It’s between Daniel Bartels and Noah Jordan. They both do band, I believe.

What’s would be your talent? Are you a singer?

I’m not sure I have a hidden talent. I definitely can’t sing.

What other sports have you tried?

I played soccer in sixth, seventh and eighth grade, and I played lacrosse in sixth and seventh. Soccer I actually liked, but I needed to focus on one sport.

With your parents being from Mali, have you visited there?

Yes. It’s definitely fun. As a kid, I could go there and just walk around with my cousins all day. It’s very relaxing.

Does traveling there give you a different perspective on the world?

For me, it definitely does, because you can see how some people struggle and it just lights more fire under you. You’ve got to know where you come from.

I’ve seen some of the charitable work done to promote basketball in Mali. (Thiero’s father has collected sports equipment and clothing to distribute there). How has that effort influenced you?

It teaches me to always give back. No matter how much you have or how little you have, you can always help out people who have less than you.

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.


More High School Basketball

WPIAL releases 2024-25 basketball schedules, updates section alignment for girls teams
Apollo-Ridge girls basketball making strides as it transitions to new coach Raevaan Mottley
Fox Chapel girls basketball coach pleased to host summer league
Experienced assistant ready to move into head coaching role with Ligonier Valley boys
Peters Township’s Natalie Wetzel commits to play basketball at Miami (Fla).