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Getting to know UK’s newest commit: Nate Sestina

What does Big Blue Nation have to look forward to from the new big man?

Diamond Head Classic - Rhode Island v Bucknell Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

In case you have not heard, Kentucky men’s basketball received a commitment from Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina on Thursday. Here’s what BBN needs to know about the versatile Sestina:

He is measured at 6’9 and 245 pounds, but his versatility is his most important characteristic. Sestina naturally scores in the post, but can also step out and score on the perimeter.

This is the kind of versatility that Calipari has largely been lacking the last few seasons from his forwards. PJ Washington did a great job developing his game into both scoring in the post and on the perimeter, but for the most part, Calipari does not bring in these 2-way scorers.

Sestina was 2nd in scoring for Bucknell this season, averaging just under 16 points per game. He led his team in rebounding, and was 2nd overall in the Patriot League, grabbing 8.5 rebounds per game.

A few key statistics for Sestina are his shooting percentage and his free throw percentage. First, he shot over 50% from the field. But more importantly to Kentucky’s needs, he is a 6’9 strong body that shot 38% from three-point land. This is actually better than Tyler Herro.

Another important statistic for BBN is that Sestina shot 80% from the free throw line. Each of the last 2 seasons, Kentucky has been bounced from the NCAA Tournament largely because of poor free throw shooting from their post players. Sestina has proven to be a better free throw shooter than both PJ and Reid Travis.

Bucknell played Lehigh (remember them, Duke?) in the Patriot League semifinal tournament game this year. Sestina was huge, scoring 23 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and dishing out 4 assists. This is the type of versatility and production Kentucky needs next season. In the league championship game against Colgate, he scored 21 points and went 3-4 from three-point land. In his conference tournament, he averaged just over 19 points and nine rebounds per game.

Sestina leaves Bucknell in the Top 10 all-time in field goal percentage for the Bison, which is nearly 54%.

Coach Cal can utilize Sestina in a variety of ways, depending on match-ups. Sestina can post on the block, but he can certainly play as a stretch-4 on the perimeter as well. Big Blue Nation should be excited about the prospect of Sestina being involved in ball-screens with UK’s point guards.

Opponents would have a VERY difficult time stopping Kentucky from scoring on ball-screens with Maxey with the ball and Sestina setting the screen. Sestina can roll to the basket and finish in the paint, but he is also very skilled at setting the screen and popping to the perimeter for a three-point shot.

Opponents who hedge hard to stop Maxey would be giving Sestina the chance to “pop” for an open shot. Opponents who worry about Sestina’s shooting ability will lead to Maxey getting down-hill to the paint.

Comparisons of former UK player: Trey Lyles

Comparison of well-known player: Luke Maye

While Luke Maye is somewhat of a curse word around Kentucky fans, a player of his caliber would readily be welcomed into the family. Nate Sestina absolutely has that kind of potential.