Evolution of Reece Beekman key to UVA hoops
Top 50 recruit Reece Beekman has, quickly, earned the trust of UVA coach Tony Bennett, who used the 6’3” freshman point guard for 37 minutes in each of the Cavaliers’ ACC wins last week.
Beekman (5.0 ppg, 2.2 assists/g, 44.7% FG, 30.8% 3FG) is growing into a nice complementary piece to junior Kihei Clark, playing a similar role alongside Clark that Clark played two years ago as a freshman alongside a junior, Ty Jerome.
It’s a luxury for Bennett to be able to have two point guards on the floor at the same time. Defensively, you get more ball pressure, more speed challenging the pick-and-roll; offensively, you get two guys penetrating, and in the case of Clark, Bennett has been using him more in a set called swing that has him in the post initiating offense closer to the hoop.
The key being that Beekman has been able to adjust to the demands of Bennett’s detailed offensive and defensive sets to be able to earn the minutes – he’s averaging 25.6 minutes per night, fourth-most on the team in 2020-2021.
He’s getting big-time praise from his coach, who was a top college point guard at Wisconsin-Green Bay before a three-year NBA career.
“I think he’s evolved. He’s continuing to understand what’s required in terms of the defensive side. I thought he brought some nice ball pressure against Boston College where he slid well, and he has good anticipation. I talked about his hands after the game, and you know, he’s a good decision-maker who can touch the paint, make decisions and do things. I think as Reece continues to improve, get stronger, and become more consistent with his outside shot, I think his game will keep taking steps up,” Bennett said.
Asked to compare Beekman to other players he has coached, Bennett came up with a couple of interesting names.
“His mind and feel for the game, you know, London Perrantes was one of the best I’ve ever had in terms of his feel,” Bennett said. “Obviously Ty was excellent in that regard. So, in some ways you know, they all have different games, but that neck up, and that feel, anticipation and finding people from an offensive standpoint, there’s some of those things that are similar.”
Story by Chris Graham