Home Reece Beekman, as expected, declares for NBA Draft: What does UVA do at point guard?

Reece Beekman, as expected, declares for NBA Draft: What does UVA do at point guard?

Chris Graham
uva beekman ncaa tournament
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

The slight glimmer of possibility that Reece Beekman would return to Virginia for his COVID redshirt year is now gone.

Beekman, on Wednesday, nearly a month after Virginia’s ugly loss to Colorado State in the First Four, officially entered the 2024 NBA Draft, and made it clear that he won’t be coming back for a fifth season in Charlottesville.

“I will carry with me not just the dream of playing at the highest level, but the responsibility to represent UVA with humility and passion,” Beekman wrote in a message on Instagram. “I am excited about the future and committed to continually improving, both on and off the court. Always a ‘Hoo!”

Beekman averaged career highs in scoring (14.3 points per game) and assists (6.2 assists per game) in 2023-2024, and was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, though I still think that honor should have gone to his teammate, Ryan Dunn, who has also declared for the 2024 NBA Draft.

Dunn, at least, is a projected late first-round or early to mid second-round pick, depending on which mock draft you’re looking at.

Beekman isn’t on most of the mock drafts that I’ve been seeing, and on the ones where his name pops up, it’s late second round.

That glimmer of hope that I’d referenced in the lede was based on Beekman taking stock of that reality, and the folks at Cav Futures coming up with an NIL package that would pay him more than the $40,500 Beekman would stand to make next year in the G League.

Beekman is about to be a UVA graduate, so I assume he’s taken all of that into consideration, and he’s gambling on himself, and taking a chance that he can play his way onto an NBA roster next season.

Good on him for doing that.

Among others, Armando Bacot didn’t take that route, hanging around college for an extra couple of years to bank money from UNC boosters, before heading out to start whatever pro career he will have at the ripe old age of 24.

With Beekman heading out, pretty much as expected, the focus for Virginia fans turns to, what does Tony Bennett do at point guard?

Looking at the transfer portal, Harvard freshman Malik Mack seemed like a possibility, but Mack, a DMV native, has committed to Georgetown.

Based on my analysis, which came down to Mack’s shortcomings on the defensive end, I’d say that’s for the best for UVA.

Next on the list, Bennett, this weekend, will be hosting top Class of 2024 point guard recruit Trent Perry, who decommitted from Southern Cal after coach Andy Enfield left for the job at SMU.

It’s hard for me to do my usual round of analytical reasoning with a prep recruit, so I’ll leave things with Perry at, he’s got a lot of suitors, and I would assume his analysis of the situation at Virginia would include looking at the current roster.

Bennett already has, in house, a couple of good, though untested, options at the point-guard spot, in rising sophomore Elijah Gertrude and redshirt freshman Christian Bliss.

Gertrude, I’ll note here, was a higher-rated prospect in 2023 (48th nationally, per 247Sports) than Perry is in 2024 (52nd nationally, per 247Sports), whatever that’s worth.

Bliss was ranked 88th in the Class of 2024 before reclassifying to 2023 and spending what would have been his senior year in high school as a redshirt at Virginia, using that year to get acclimated to the college game practicing with the green team, as opposed to playing high-school kids.

From what we’ve seen of Gertrude, he’s a kid with tremendous bounce, freakish athleticism, seemingly boundless potential, who just needs to learn to play within the system, which won’t be easy.

Bliss, just based on the scouting reports of him from his prep days, projects as a Ty Jerome type, a big point guard who can see over defenses and shoot from the perimeter.

Andrew Rohde, at 6’6”, also fits that bill – resist the urge to punch the nearest wall right now; it’s not worth it – and I have a feeling that the inordinate amount of playing time Rohde got this past season, based on his productivity, lack thereof (4.3 ppg, 2.7 assists/g, 29.3% FG, 25.7% 3FG), was based on Bennett’s interest in getting Rohde ready to take over as the point guard in 2024-2025.

As I was going back over this column one more time to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything, I realized that I was leaving out Dante Harris, who was a double-digit scorer at Georgetown, got a good bit of hype running with the green team during his transfer semester, then was a bust in 2023-2024 (2.5 ppg, 1.4 assists/g, 28.0% FG, 10.0% 3FG).

Seriously, no punching walls.

It’s hard to type with a broken hand.

There are other options at the point out there on the portal, and with Beekman and Dunn heading to whatever their next level is, and redshirt freshman guard Leon Bond headed out via the portal, plus the one open scholarship that Bennett already had headed into the offseason, that leaves four open roster scholarships total to work with.

The first and second priorities are in the frontcourt, which with Dunn and grad seniors Jake Groves and Jordan Minor gone will be a bit thin, with rising sophomore Blake Buchanan returning, redshirt freshman Anthony Robinson coming into the fold after a year with the green team, and incoming four-star recruit Jacob Cofie joining the program in the summer.

If it’s me running things, I’d prioritize one defensive big, one 3-and-D stretch four, an athletic four along the lines of Syracuse transfer Maliq Brown, and a combo guard who can shoot.

This would involve gambling that somebody from among the incumbents at point will be able to take over.

My sense is, there’s a lot of gambling going on with the construction of the roster going into next year.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].