There’s an old saying in life that “if something sounds too good to be true it probably is.” And in most cases, that is probably a fair and accurate statement.
Just not for Nate Sestina.
Like so many of his former Kentucky teammates, Sestina is currently spending his days preparing for the NBA Draft. What makes Sestina different however is that – as you may have read this week – he is actually doing his training, in Napa Valley, California.
At a winery.
And when we say “winery” no we’re not using it as some vague reference to the fact that Sestina is in wine country.
He is actually living at an actual winery, according to the guy who is working him out, Joey Fuca. Fuca, who is the head coach at local prep powerhouse Prolific Prep (where Jalen Green played last season), is now spending part of his summer working with Sestina.
And he gave KSR a behind the scenes look at Sestina’s sweet (bad pun definitely intended) set-up.
“The owner of the home sells wine, and he obviously grows it,” Fuca explained, in an exclusive interview with KSR. “He’s got 500 acres. And Nate actually lives, the home is on the property. Nate actually lives in the house. He’s got a sauna, he’s got the weight room, it’s a pretty sweet deal honestly.”
There is also a full-length basketball court on the property where Sestina gets his work in every day.
Which of course leads to a very natural follow-up question: Why does a winery need a full-length basketball court?
“[The owner’s] wife is trying to figure out that answer as well,” Fuca said with a laugh.
In terms of how Sestina ended up in such a sweet situation (darn it, I did it again!) well, it was just some good old-fashioned fortuitous good luck.
It starts with Sestina’s former roommate at Bucknell Matt O’Reilly. O’Reilly actually played locally at Prolific Prep as a high school player (the school itself is located just a short drive away) and after graduating from Bucknell returned to the area to work for the owner of the winery. So that was the first connection. Then, when Sestina went looking for an agent, he found one in Oakland.
Once Sestina settled on the agent, he reconnected with O’Reilly. And just like that, Sestina was living and training at winery in preparation for the NBA Draft.
But while the living condition might be plush, make no mistake, Sestina is working hard. Fuca puts Sestina through workouts several times a week, but – due to the isolated nature of the set-up – it’s on Sestina do a lot of work on his own. The former Wildcat does cardio and lifts weights in the morning, and then goes to the gym for work in the afternoon. At night he gets up extra shots. Occasionally local players will come through the area to get a run in, most recently this week when Houston Rockets guard Ben McLemore and Tyler Johnson, who played for the Suns last season, stopped by.
And when Fuca is in the gym with Sestina, the focus is on improving his overall skill-set. Wherever Sestina plays professionally, Fuca envisions him taking a role similar to what he had at Kentucky, where he was relied on for everything from energy and hustle, to rebounding and three-point shooting.
That last part is important. With Sestina earning a reputation as a solid three-point shooting big at Kentucky (he shot over 40 percent), Fuca’s goal is to get Sestina creating more off the dribble.
“Obviously, he can shoot the s**t out of the ball,” Fuca said. “But he needed to be able to create a little bit more for himself if he wants to play at the highest level. But we’ve been working on pick and roll, pick and pop, different scenarios he’ll see whether its overseas, the NBA or the G-League.”
In terms of what’s next for Sestina, well, like so much of the rest of the basketball world, he is largely in a holding pattern. Sestina mentioned in his interview earlier this week that despite getting overseas offers, he is hoping to stay state side for the coming season and try to earn a two-way contract in the G-League.
Wherever he ends up, Fuca believes he has a long future playing basketball.
“He had a couple deals [presented this off-season],” Fuca said. “But his goal is to play in the NBA. I really think he’s had a few good interviews, I think he’s that type of guy. I think he can fill that role as a back-up big that can come in and stretch the floor, rebound at a high level, play hard, set screens, be a floor spacer.”
“I do think he’s a guy who will end up being on a two-way deal in the G-League and grind his way in. But I do think he’s going to play at a high level in overseas, or he’ll have an opportunity to play at the highest level.”