Earlier this morning the ACC released its 2021-2022 basketball season All-ACC teams and awards. The Virginia Cavaliers — while less present than in year’s past — had Jayden Gardner on the third team while both Reece Beekman and Kihei Clark each made the Honorable Mention.
Gardner was a consistent offensive threat throughout the season for Virginia but especially came on in the second half of ACC play. Finishing the year averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, Gardner truly grew into the Virginia system.
In a new, more condensed role this season, Clark had his most efficient season to date. His 36.7% three point shooting rate is a career high and his value as this team’s veteran leader who’s been in all the biggest moments has been significant. He’s had his ups and downs as he always does, but Clark has come up big in a number of critical games this season.
Along with the Honorable Mention nod, Beekman also made the All-ACC Defensive team and was voted to second place for the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year. Losing to Duke’s Mark Williams who finished with 47 votes compared to Beekman’s 20, it’s a real shame to see Beekman’s historic defensive season fall short of an award that UVA players won four of the last seven seasons.
Beekman’s steal rate was first in the conference as was his 2.1 steals per game average. Additionally, his block rate of 2.63 and 0.73 blocks per game were both first among conference guards.
Mark Williams is a worthy of being named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year. But the impact that Beekman has on opponents’ offenses with his ability to lock down other team’s best perimeter threat while simultaneously roaming the passing lanes and making plays is immeasurable.
Generally, Virginia gets a bit of a boost in regards to awards since the ‘Hoos tend to finish at or near the top of the ACC standings. That often outweighs the per game average fallacy that negatively impacts Wahoos considering Virginia’s slower pace. But sixth in the conference doesn’t generate much hype for individuals who contribute to a team considered to be greater than the sum of its parts.
With individual accomplishments out of the way, this team has its sternest test of the season coming up this week in the ACC Tournament. It’s all but set in stone that Virginia has to win the ACC and seize the automatic bid to make the NCAA Tournament.
The ‘Hoos will set out on their quest to win four games in four days on Wednesday at 9:30 PM against the winner of the Louisville - Georgia Tech contest on Tuesday.