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Beekman, Franklin emerging: Virginia needs more from Clark

kihei clark reece beekman armaan franklin
Virginia basketball players Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman and Armaan Franklin. Photo by Dan Grogan.

Reece Beekman and Armaan Franklin have been foundational elements on both ends of the floor for Virginia over the past 10 games.

First, to Beekman, the second-year point guard, who has averaged 8.7 points and 5.4 assists per game dating back to UVA’s 82-49 win over Farleigh Dickinson on Dec. 18, shooting 55.4 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three-point range.

The top-rated defender in the Cavaliers rotation, Beekman leads the ACC in steals (2.2 per game) and is holding opponents to 32.1 percent shooting and is forcing turnovers on 23.3 percent of opponents’ uses.

Franklin, over his past 10, has averaged 13.0 points per game, on 44.4 percent shooting from the floor and 31.4 percent shooting from three.

Franklin, like Beekman, rates as “excellent” per Synergy Sports data, allowing .690 points per possession to opponents, on just 31.4 percent shooting from the field.

A reason the ‘Hoos have been up and down over their last 10 has been the inconsistent play of the other point guard on the roster, senior Kihei Clark.

Clark has averaged 7.7 points and 5.2 assists per game dating back to the Farleigh Dickinson game, shooting 35.6 percent from the floor and 36.6 percent from three.

The bulk of his production came in two stellar outings – 17 points and eight assists in the 74-69 win at Syracuse on Jan. 1, and 15 points and five assists in the 64-52 win over Louisville earlier this week.

Outside of those games, Clark is averaging 5.6 points and 4.9 assists since mid-December, on 26.9 percent shooting from the floor and 31.0 percent shooting from three.

Clark, defensively, rates “good,” per Synergy Sports, allowing .781 points per possession to opponents, allowing 34.8 percent shooting.

Guard play is key on Tony Bennett-coached teams (see: 2019).

The emergence of Beekman as the borderline elite player that seemed to be in the cards when he committed as a prep has come none too soon.

Franklin continues to struggle with his shooting from behind the arc, but he’s a proven scorer, even if not reliable shooter.

Bennett needs to get more from Clark, and more consistently, to see this season’s team reach its potential.

Story by Chris Graham


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