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4 Takeaways from Kentucky Basketball’s Pro Day



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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I like my team.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

26 Comments for 4 Takeaways from Kentucky Basketball’s Pro Day

  1. Bruce Dickinson
    9:08 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    If Sestina plays this good during the season, it will be a fun year.

  2. BBNnCLE
    9:36 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    Is it just me or does this years team look like it’s gonna be a better version of last years team? I know it’s early but I feel pretty confident in saying that.

  3. Cousins Fake Tooth
    9:38 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    There going to be a replay of this anywhere?

    • mashburnfan1
      10:34 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

      SEC Network will probably show it again a few times. ESPNU might as well.

    • mashburnfan1
      10:39 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

      Cousins I am sorry. Just did a quick check and do not see a scheduled replay on either Network. Really figured they would show it some day hours during the week.

    • runningunnin.454
      5:29 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      Wow, this is a basketball post. Didn’t expect to see anyone that hates Cal, UK basketball, one & dones, and underclassman led teams.

    • mashburnfan1
      7:34 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      Never said I hate any of those. Have said I don’t think Cal is a good in game coach. Have said NO coach can win a title if you have to rely on only FR, have said I hate the one and done rule and the fact we send so many out that are not close to ready so we can claim more draft picks, and have not been to a UK basketball game in the last 2 years, after making at least 1 for many many years, because it is bad basketball to watch. Please tell me any of this that is untrue. The Cal coaching thing is an opinion many have and many do not.

    • runningunnin.454
      8:23 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      Bad basketball? Obviously the majority disagree; we will be in the Champions Classic in the mecca of basketball in NYC with three other teams that are considered…elite.
      Cal is a HOF coach, one title, 4 Final Fours, and has won more ncaa tournament games the last ten years than anyone. A national TV network also disagrees with you; they televised a 2 hour scrimmage last night. There were reps from every NBA team on hand to watch.
      But, don’t watch if it’s so bad.
      UK does not “force” any player out when they’re not ready…that’s their decision, and we can’t kidnap them.

    • 4everUKblue
      9:23 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      mashbum, you are the turd in the punchbowl. Were you aware the one and done rule is not Cal’s rule? You’re a fraud, and nothing more than a spin doctor and a liar. You’ve asked me to tell you what you’ve lied about but when I respond you either never come back or choose not to respond when you see you’ve been exposed for the phony that you are. As for forcing players out, you’re right, Cal tore up Dajuan Wagner’s scholarship papers in front of him and look how that turned out. What a bad person Cal is.

    • 4everUKblue
      9:26 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      mashbum, you’ve also called Cal a cheater, yet you, nor anyone else has ever shown any proof, so if you have proof now would be a good time to bring it forth….or STFU!

  4. Smyrna_Cat
    9:42 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    This year we are a basketball school.

    • CatBlue in LR
      11:14 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

      That’s only been true since about 1933.

  5. KYjellyRoll
    9:45 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    I noticed sestina making threes while Ashton was being interviewed, I counted 11 in a row and idk how many he’d already made when I started counting

    • royce12
      9:30 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      They are saying that he made 20 of 24!

  6. Southky
    10:00 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    Sweet, sweet basketball!! Thank you Lord!!

  7. CrystalBall
    10:26 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    Juzang was impressive.

  8. Smyrna_Cat
    10:33 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    “I’d say he’s the odds-on favorite for the early season MVP.” Sestina? Really? If so, I will eat my basketball.

    • BBNnCLE
      3:33 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      You know what MVP stands for, right? Even if he isn’t the best player, he certainly sounds like the most valuable bc of not only his skill set but his intangibles. You could argue Reid was our MVP last year for that reason.

  9. CMH23
    10:37 pm October 6, 2019 Permalink

    Not much improvement for Nick if any?

    • Aar
      4:24 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      I’d say mixed. He was willing to shoot mid-range in live action and generally looked to be in the flow more often than not. There were still times when he looked out of it.

      Small live action sample and everybody still looked like they’re learning what Cal wants. Overall, I’m impressed with the abilities of Sestina, Montgomery and Brooks to stretch the floor and looking for bangers in the post.

      Backcourt only needs effective post play to be special

  10. UKLugo
    8:43 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

    If Sestina and Juzang are our best players, we will be in trouble. EJ and Nick didn’t look so good.

    • UKFanSC
      8:53 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      It’s probably not fair to draw any significant conclusions from the event, but I agree that Nick and EJ did not look materially different than in prior years.

    • UKLugo
      8:58 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      Yes. You’re right. I’m taking it with a grain of salt.

    8:51 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

    Nick didn’t look completely lost which is a good sign. Sestina is a pleasant surprise and Johnny looks ready to be Bucket 2.0 (an improved version). My only concern is Ashton running the point. He looked like he was trying to play too fast and do too much. Thankfully we have plenty of options to insert at PG. As long as our bugs stay out of foul trouble we should be ok. I certainly don’t see us being on the receiving end of a 50-point blowout to start this season.

    • UKLugo
      8:59 am October 7, 2019 Permalink

      I dunno. MSU is going to be pretty damn good in the beginning of Nov. We’ll just be getting started.

    • Skooms
      2:07 pm October 7, 2019 Permalink

      I don’t really disagree Lugo, but there are a couple of differences in my opinion. Thanks to the Bahamas, the hype train was running full steam for our team, and honestly dUKe seemed to come out with a big chip on their shoulders. I think Zion was determined to show everyone why he was going to be the best player in College last year too. If you remember, a lot of the talk was about Barrett going into that game, however Zion seemed to start changing the narrative after that game. This year, the pressure seems to be all on MSU.