Sestina Named Candidate for Senior CLASS Award

Kentucky's Nate Sestina, center, celebrates a made 3-point shot near Alabama's Galin Smith (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan 11, 2020.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky men’s basketball forward Nate Sestina was named one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award last week. Honoring student-athletes who excel both on and off the court, the candidates must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence in community, classroom, character, and competition to be eligible for the award.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

Ten finalists will be named in February and placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote from fans, coaches and media. The winner will be announced during the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Atlanta in April.

Sestina graduated from Bucknell University in May with a degree in geography before transferring to Kentucky as a graduate student this summer. He is enrolled in UK’s master’s program in health promotion with an emphasis on sport leadership. While at Bucknell, he was a 2019 Patriot League Academic Honor Roll member during his senior season as well as being a part of the dean’s list.

Throughout his collegiate career, Sestina has been a mainstay in the community. In just a few short months at Kentucky, he’s already participated in serving the Salvation Army, packing lunches, distributing to a local school and playing backyard 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 community service projects while at Bucknell involved coordinating and executing a local marathon with other student-athletes. Sestina is also active at home while he is visiting family during his breaks from college. He can often be found offering motivational speeches to the football and basketball teams at his former high school. He pops in and reads to the elementary school students. Sestina also volunteers at his church, where he packs and organizes donations and distributes the 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.

A native of Emporium, Pennsylvania, Sestina was the first athlete from his hometown to earn an athletic scholarship to a Division I program since the 1970s.

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 during 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.

This season, Sestina is averaging 6.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Wildcats. He’s connecting on 45.3% of his field goals, as well as career highs from both 3-point range (39.4%) and the charity stripe (81.5%). Sestina knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers in the loss to Ohio State and has scored in double digits twice this season. He is 27 points shy of scoring 1,000 for his career.

The Wildcats return to action on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET inside of Rupp Arena. UK will take on Georgia on ESPN.