Before returning to Charlottesville this summer, Virginia Cavaliers point guard Reece Beekman went through the NBA Draft process in the spring until he eventually withdrew and decided to come back to play his fourth season as a Wahoo. Since the end of May, he’s put the feedback he received from NBA scouts, coaches, and executives to use in order to expand his game ahead of his fourth and (almost definitely) final year with UVA.
Reece Beekman, Virginia—Unteachable D-instincts, useful 6-7 WS. Potentially impactful enough with quickness/anticipation for NBA teams to play him for D-pressure/playmaking. High-IQ passer/decision-maker (5.3 APG, 1.6 TO). Craftiness with dribble to create finishing chances.… pic.twitter.com/a9q1z2JFzG— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) August 18, 2023
With regard to the nuances of his play, it was his ability to create and make his own shot which the NBA world suggested he improve. Specifically, his efficiency in the midrange and the ability to pull up off the dribble.
“That was a part of the draft process that I picked up,” Beekman said at Monday’s media day. “Just working on [midrange shooting off the dribble] a lot, repping out the shots so I can be more comfortable with my game. It’s something I worked on specifically this offseason.”
He added that the emphasis was on “just being complete, more complete off the dribble with shooting and finishing. Also being consistent with the jumpshot. There were stretches last year where it was really good, and then it dropped a little bit. I want to stay at a good level where I feel good with my shot and my game on both ends of the floor.”
Believe it or not, in our column in early October detailing what it will take for Beekman to become an elite college guard, being more efficient in the midrange was a key factor.
He’s developed into a solid catch-and-shoot three-point threat (79th percentile in efficiency in college basketball on open C&S threes and 56th percentile on guarded C&S threes per Shot Quality). But his off the dribble shooting left something to be desired. While he was respectable on off the dribble threes off a pick (51st percentile in efficiency), it was on 18 short midrange attempts (13th percentile) and eight long midrange attempts (14 percentile) where he fell off.
Shooting two-point jumpers might not be the most analytically favorable approach. But for a player who has first round pick and All-American aspirations, at least being middle of the pack in that department is worthwhile to complete his offensive skillset.
Fortunately for the Wahoos, in UVA’s Blue-White scrimmage in mid-October, the fourth year point guard displayed noticeable improvement as a shooter off the dribble. He went 3-5 from the midrange, nailing a number of tough, contested midrange jumpers after trying to get downhill. Bottom line, the focus and the feedback look like they’re going to pay off.
Beyond the minutiae of his offensive game, it was Beekman’s overall role on the team that NBA folks wanted to see expand.
“The leadership role, that was something they talked about,” he said, adding that they want “to see me be a little more vocal and then play with the ball in my hands a little more. So I’m gonna trust Coach Bennett to put me in the right situations, because I know he will. But I’ll try to do those things to show I can while staying true to myself and to the offense as well.”
Virginia will need Beekman to take on a more assertive role this season, and he and the staff appear to be comfortable with that. As his game continues to improve and now that his health has stabilized, Beekman looks primed for a rampage of a senior campaign for the ‘Hoos.