NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (UK Athletics) – Nate Sestina, a key member of the 2019-20 Kentucky men’s basketball team, has signed his first professional basketball contract with a team in Russia. Sestina has inked a deal with Basketball Club Nizhny Novgorod in the VTB United League and the Basketball Champions League.
The deal comes after a successful stop in Lexington as a graduate student. The former Bucknell star played a season at UK after earning his undergraduate degree with the Bison.
Sestina played a vital role in the Wildcats’ 25-6 season that culminated with the program’s 49th Southeastern Conference regular-season championship and its first since 2017. The Wildcats were expected to be one of the top seeds in the NCAA Tournament before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of the postseason.
Embracing a leadership role on a young team, Sestina provided key minutes off the bench in addition to seven starts in 28 appearances. He missed three games in late November and early December with a fractured left wrist).
Sestina averaged 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in his lone season at UK with four double-figure scoring games. He made 40.7% from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team.
Chief among his season highlights, Sestina posted nine points and six rebounds in the 18-point comeback season finale victory at Florida. He helped the Wildcats clinch the SEC championship with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the home victory vs. No. 15/15 Auburn and flirted with a double-double with 11 points and eight rebounds in the win at LSU a few games prior. His best scoring performance of the season was a 17-point outing with a season-best five 3-pointers in the game vs. No. 5/4 Ohio State in Las Vegas.
Sestina surpassed 1,000 career points with the 11 points at LSU and finished his college career with 1,037 points, 621 rebounds and 86 blocks.
Sestina starred in his last of four seasons at Bucknell in 2018-19. Averaging 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, Sestina was tabbed to the All-Patriot League Second Team and the Patriot League All-Tournament Team. The Pennsylvania native shot 53.6% from the field, 38.0% from 3-point range and 80.8% from the charity stripe. He scored in double figures in 27 of 31 contests.
In addition to his contributions on the court at Kentucky, Sestina was a member of UK’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and made the 2019-20 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll.
As former Kentucky players dominate the NBA Playoffs with a nation-leading six players in the conference finals – and 13 to start the postseason – a handful of Wildcats are enjoying international success as well. Recent Wildcats who have either signed recent deals or played internationally in the last year include (does not include any current NBA or NBA G-League players):