The Wildcats added a key piece to their 2019–20 roster on Thursday.
Just days after Kentucky's 2018–19 season ended, John Calipari is already making moves for 2019–20.
The Wildcats landed the commitment of Bucknell grad transfer Nate Sestina on Thursday after he visited the Lexington campus earlier in the week. Sestina, a 6'9" forward, averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Bison in a breakout year while shooting 54.5% from the field and 38.3% from three.
This marks the second year in a row that Calipari, known for his recruitment of highly-talented freshmen, has added a grad transfer to his roster. A year ago, he landed Stanford's Reid Travis, who went on to average 11.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in his lone season at Kentucky.
It’s been an amazing ride from Emporium to Bucknell and everywhere in between, and it’s surreal to think my college basketball career isn’t over yet.— Nate Sestina (@NateSestina23) April 4, 2019
I’m humbled to get started with @KentuckyMBB! Need to thank God, my family, my coaches, teammates and @UKCoachCalipari #BBN pic.twitter.com/JS3ZKqIS4e
Sestina might not have quite as smooth a transition as Travis, given that he's coming from the Patriot League instead of the Pac-12, but he's a notable get for the Wildcats and was regarded as one of the best grad transfers available. His three-point shooting ability would be a particular boon if he can carry it over, especially after Kentucky's young offense went into scoring droughts during this year's tournament and shot 5 for 21 from deep in its Elite Eight loss to Auburn. Like Travis, Sestina will also provide a veteran presence for the 'Cats, who are poised to once again be one of the country's youngest teams.
Sestina was Bucknell's second-leading scorer and leading rebounder in 2018–19, had 10 games where he scored at least 20 points and was ranked 43rd nationally in defensive rebounding rate, per kenpom. He won't need to fill as large a role in Kentucky's offense, but in addition to his shooting, he fills a need in the frontcourt, and he's an excellent free throw shooter, making 80.8% of his 99 attempts this season.
Kentucky is set to lose multiple players from its current roster to the NBA draft—most likely PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson, though none have declared yet. It seems more likely to return guards Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Jemarl Baker, and big men E.J Montgomery and Nick Richards. Unsurprisingly, Calipari is welcoming in another loaded recruiting class, highlighted by five-stars Tyrese Maxey (guard), Kahlil Whitney (wing) and Keion Brooks (wing). The 2019 class is currently No. 2 on the 247 team rankings.