Earlier on Sunday, Kentucky held it’s sixth annual Pro Day as the Wildcats played host to scouts from all 30 NBA teams (Tayshaun Prince was even in the house representing the Memphis Grizzlies). The open-practice provided us with a glimpse of what this season’s version of the Wildcats will look like, but it was definitely more of an “early rough draft” version than anything. The players went through several individual drills before jumping into 3-on-3, 4-on-4, and even some 5-on-5 action. Here are four quick takeaways from what we learned.
Nate Sestina can do everything
During one of the shooting drills, Nate Sestina shot 20-24 from three, with 18 of those makes hitting nothing but net. I could swear that he made 15 of them in a row at one point. His form was fluid and every shot came off his fingers with noticeable confidence. His ability to stretch the floor is going to open up everything for these quick Kentucky guards.
But even more surprising was his athleticism. At 6-foot-9, Sestina recorded a 33-inch vertical and was not only blocking shots at the rim but also executing some easy lob plays.
It's impossible to watch the UK Pro Day and not come away thrilled with how Nate Sestina is performing. Early camp whispers were growing louder that he'd be a serious difference-maker this season, and he's certainly looking the part tonight
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 6, 2019
Sestina has also been tabbed as the most vocal player on the team by a wide margin. The broadcast team of Seth Greenberg and Jimmy Dykes asked John Calipari which player outside of Sestina talks the most. His reply? “The coaches.” Cal also said there are times during practice that he tells Sestina to stop talking so the younger guys will speak up.
There wasn’t a player working harder all practice than Sestina.
Never good to read too much into a Pro Day, but Tyrese Maxey and Nate Sestina stand out to me. Sestina hustling to the point he’s out of breath. Also, watching distracted Calipari is hilarious.
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 6, 2019
It’s amazing what adding 30 pounds of muscle can do to a basketball player, isn’t it? Playing in front of pro scouts is the exact reason Sestina came to Kentucky and he made sure to take advantage of the situation. I’d say he’s the odds-on favorite for the early season MVP.
Johnny Juzang is basically the best shooter of all time
One of the most notable standouts from the practice was the beauty and ease of Johnny Juzang’s jump shot. He clearly has the quickest release of any player on the roster and arguably the most technically sound jumper. He hardly even brings the ball at all once he catches it. He just transitions straight into his shot. It’s damn near perfection.
At one point during the broadcast, John Calipari said that he’s always had shooters on his roster, he just never had “makers” (relax, he was *mostly* joking). Juzang could quickly put an end to that line of thinking. He showed zero hesitation on some of his pull-up threes and at 6-foot-6 can fire over almost anyone.
Between Johnny Juzang, Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley, and Nate Sestina, Kentucky has its fair share of shooters this year. Keion Brooks, Kahlil Whitney, and EJ Montgomery can hit shots, as well.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 6, 2019
We got shooters everywhere. Even EJ Montogmery looked like he’s tightened up his shot over the summer. He and Nick Richards were knocking down 15-footers (albeit, wide open) like it was nothing.
Don’t try to interrupt John Calipari
Probably the funniest part of the entire two-hour event was Greenberg and Dykes attempting to interview Calipari during 5-on-5 drills. Most questions went unanswered as Cal gazed onto the court, oftentimes shouting out instructions straight into the microphone. An airballed three by Montgomery prompted an “oh geez” and a poor pass from Ashton Hagans had the head coach questioning if he threw it off the shot clock. It was peak Cal in every way.
If our guys practice that hard every day and talk like they did throughout the whole #UKProDay, we will be fine. Only two guys got cramps. I expected half the team to get them. I like my team. pic.twitter.com/cKPEo9SYbd
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) October 7, 2019
Cal said that he thought Kahlil Whitney would be the first player to get cramps, but he ended the practice looking to be in good form.
Seven players have at least a seven-foot wingspan
The SEC Network posted a graphic during the event that showed Richards recorded the longest wingspan, but it was Dontaie Allen’s 7-foot-2 wingspan that stood out to me. Allen stands at only 6-foot-6, but has arms the size of a pterodactyl. Injuries prevented him from playing, but he has the physical requirements to be a great player.
Basically, everyone is long. Kentucky typically recruits players with length and this team is no different. It’s going to make what should be an elite defensive team just that much better on that end. Tyrese Maxey and Hagans proved that during their short outing of 4-on-4 drills.
That’s all I have for you all tonight, but Jack Pilgrim will be back tomorrow to give everyone a more in-depth breakdown of everything that went down during another successful Kentucky Pro Day.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 7, 2019
I like my team.