« Men’s Basketball 2019-20

Nate Sestina


University of Kentucky

Kinesiology and Health Promotion


Nate Sestina earned an undergraduate degree in geography from Bucknell University in May. He was a 2019 Patriot League Academic Honor Roll member his senior season and a member of the Dean’s List. At Kentucky, he is pursuing a master’s degree in sport leadership.


Sestina was the first athlete from his hometown of Emporium, Pennsylvania, to earn an athletic scholarship to a Division I program since the 1970s. Just months into his first season at Bucknell, he suffered a right shoulder injury. It was originally thought to have been only ligament damage, but ended up requiring a full-scale reconstructive surgery on his shoulder. His return timetable for recovery was listed at eight months, but he returned to the court just fourth months after his injury thanks to his determination to get back quickly. That determination continued as his playing time increased every season at Bucknell. He was eventually voted a team captain for his senior season. Throughout his career at Bucknell, he served on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. A family-oriented person, Sestina is extremely close with his two brothers who serve in the military. Prior to senior day at Bucknell, it had been a year and a half since he had last seen his brother Andrew. In what became a viral video, Andrew surprised Nate and his family on senior day - underscoring the closeness of family and what the brothers mean to one another. Upon arriving to Kentucky, Sestina chose to continue participating in SAAC and is serving as the men’s basketball representative in 2019-20. He also serves as Kentucky’s men’s basketball representative on the Southeastern Conference Leadership Committee.


Throughout his collegiate career, Sestina has been a mainstay in the community. In just a few short months since moving to Kentucky, he has already participated in packing lunches, distributing them to a local school, and playing games with a local elementary school as a part of God’s Pantry. He also participated in a similar project while at Bucknell. One of his favorite projects while at Bucknell involved coordinating and executing a local marathon with other student-athletes. Sestina is also active at home while he visits his family during school breaks. He can be found offering motivational talks to the football and basketball teams at his former high school, as well as reading to elementary school students. Sestina also volunteers at his church packing, organizing, overseeing donations and distributing items to families. During the holiday season, he joins his family in singing carols and helping decorate at The Manor, a local assisted living facility.


Sestina’s freshman season ended prematurely due to a shoulder injury just as he was working his way into the lineup. He chipped away at playing time and eventually carved a starting role his senior season. He was a Second Team All-Patriot League and PL All-Tournament Team selection his senior season, despite not starting a single game prior to his final season at Bucknell. Adding to his successful senior campaign, he was a National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District Team selection. He ranked second on the team and sixth in the Patriot League in scoring at 15.8 points per game. He paced the Bison and ranked second in the league in rebounding at 8.5 boards per outing. He shot 53.6% from the field, 38.0% from 3-point range, and 80.8% from the free-throw line. He’s scored in double figures more than 40 times in his career and has 10-plus games with a double-double. At Kentucky, he’s the senior most veteran player on a team with ten underclassmen and has acted as a leader.