ADVERTISEMENT

UVA Basketball Mailbag: Reece Beekman NBA Draft, Best Squads, Players as Thanksgiving Parties, and More

ADVERTISEMENT

After a weekend of massive success for Virginia Cavaliersmen’s basketball team, I’ve gathered questions from the fanbase to answer as we re-evaluate just how good this team is and what factors could determine this group’s potential. Oh, and I talked about any player associated with the Thanksgiving side. Enjoy!

ADVERTISEMENT

Do you see a word time pattern between Reece and Kihei? Reese get more opportunities to run things?

Reese is definitely the main goalie for this team. He played just a little less minutes than Keihei in the first four games, but that was due more to some unfortunate foul play than anything else. Reese is the one who runs this crime. His usage rating rose to 25.1% from 16.8% last season while Kihei’s rating fell slightly from 19.8% to 18.4%. It’s clear that some of the additional responsibilities that Reese has are associated with a team that cares more about its strengths than last season, but it’s also a sign of further growth.

Keihe still gets his chances. He won’t be relegated to the background anytime soon, but the coaching staff clearly knows who their head guard is.

Which player has been the biggest surprise to you so far this year in terms of taking their game to the next level?

As readers probably know I’ve been dealing with (and crossing my fingers) jumps from Kadin and Reece for a while now. So, for this one, I’m going to say Armand Franklin. Having been high on him when he arrived in Charlottesville last season, I’ll admit to being skeptical this season as to what role he’ll play. Boy did you prove me wrong. He was arguably the team’s MVP through four competitions.

And it’s not just about shooting. He had a combined five steals over the weekend and came out in transition well. Franklin has been a defensive destroyer and has become one of the great model guards that the UVA system loves.

Of the many permutations of the 5 players UVA can put on the field, what are your top 3 combinations? (FWIW, I was in Vegas for the main event and I don’t think any of my top 3 players would include the current starting lineup)

Definitely an interesting question here. It is difficult because some formations are sustainable for longer periods of time and this is all greatly influenced by opponents and matches. But if I had to list the first three (in no particular order), I’d go with Beckman-Clark-Franklin-BVB-Schedrick, Beckman-Clark-Franklin-Gardner-BVB, and (still) Beckman-Clark-Franklin- Garner-Schedrick.

I know this is probably not the desired answer nor the highest possible answer. But these are probably the top three team formations to use throughout the entire match against the elite competition at the moment.

However, things change over time and players can evolve to the point of making this conversation more challenging. But I think the continuity and consistency that can be expected from the current starters who started together last season, the evolution that the small-ball lineup provides, and how Vander Plas playing the four with Shedrick changes how defenses should play with Virginia. The best groups at this time.

How long until a BVP gets into the starting lineup?

I don’t think he will. It wasn’t a hit on him – I think he’s the perfect sixth man for this group. Is he the most valuable player on the list in terms of squad success? Likely. It changes the way a team plays when it’s on the ground for several reasons. But there’s value in getting this guy off the bench considering how he’s more of a supplemental piece than a lead. But perhaps even more intimidating is bringing Gardner off the bench for opposing teams. We’ll see, but it probably won’t affect your actual playtime either way.

Ryan Dunn didn’t get many minutes in Vegas. Coach’s decision or was it a bit under the weather?

I can’t tell you if it’s weathered, but I bet the staff felt more comfortable with those top six players against this elite competition than they did going to the bench. Dunn will continue to grow and improve as the season progresses (as does McKneely) and could be crucial going forward.

What is Ryan Dunn’s ceiling by March? Who is the minutes that he will take?

As I noted in the last answer, this is absolutely something to watch as the season progresses. This is already a top 10 team in the country with how UVA plays now and how this list fits together. But McKneely and Dunn (especially) could only make Hoos so much better.

Den roof by March… oh boy dare we say De’Andre Hunter 2017-2018? Difficult. This team has more depth in the front court than that roster did, and the BVP-Gardner dynamic in the four somewhat limits the advantages Dan can provide as a small ball, versatile four for Virginia. As a guard who plays all three, his perimeter defense is great, but Franklin is probably over his value now in that spot.

So, his cap is to be a formula-changing player who takes real minutes from Gardner and/or BVP. What is more likely to happen is the occasional change of playing field when things are stagnant or when the defense needs a sporting boost.

What’s the vibe of Jayden, is he underwhelming or is he developing into the kind of player we need this year (which is clearly different from last year)?

I can’t speak to what level of frustration he might have had, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be fun to reduce his role after he was the guy last year. But all signs point to him being a great teammate who is committed to winning. Having said that, I think it will take time for him to learn how to play for this team instead of last year. Last season he had to use power and hit hard, but that isn’t necessary for this group, so he’ll need to keep looking for more ways to influence the game.

He hit the free throw line at a great rate, was dominant at the boundary line on the offensive glass, and was still flexible defensively. I think he’s evolving into the player UVA needs, it may only take a minute to change the mindset.

Will Gardner get more minutes, fewer minutes, or the same amount of minutes from now on?

Speaking of, Gardner now averages 20.7 minutes per game. I think that number is going to tilt a little bit as the year progresses and UVA uses its junior football lineup with him and BVP more and with fewer games sitting in. I think as he adjusts to this version of the team his minutes will increase as well, maybe closer to 24 or 25 per game.

If every player on the list was a Thanksgiving sidekick, what would they be?

My knowledge of the aspects of Thanksgiving isn’t great enough to go through the entire list, but I’ll go as far as I can.

Kehei Clark – Bread Rolls. An absolute staple. was about freaking out ever. Not ideal in itself but when paired with the right teammates, watch out.

Reese Beckman – mashed potatoes. MVP in the aspects, but I still need the right complementary pieces to really shine.

Jaden Gardner – Filler. At the right moments, incredibly and the star of the show. In other cases, a solid addition to the palette.

Armand Franklin – Gravy. I’m not sure this necessarily qualifies for the aspect, but I’ll allow it because I want to. An elite side to pair with mashed potatoes or turkey (CTB is turkey btw), the gravy and Armaan are both elite in their own right and make a lot of play but still need the staples around them to work better.

Ben Vander Place – Mac and Cheese. You don’t think they belong right away, but when you add them into the mix, it’s a complete game-changer.

Caden Shedrick – Yams. (Speaking from personal experience). It took him a while to grow and blossom into the star we all expected him to be, but now he’s gorgeous.

Francisco Caffaro – Green Bean Casserole. Solid and straightforward, you know what you’re getting. It is sometimes a bit soggy and should not be consumed in large doses, but it is very good when called upon to perform in batches.

I’ll stop while I’m up here. You need more time before dedicating a specific aspect to the youth.

CTB seemed to have wanted Traudt to get deep but Traudt demanded the red jersey. Do you think if we’re struggling in team play with shooting, is there any chance CTB will burn the redshirt for some extra shooting depth?

Nah. It is impossible for Bennett to make that decision. I also don’t think it’s likely that the team has trouble shooting too high to have this conversation. But, as CTB always says, it’s always up to the player or not, and with Traudt making that decision himself, he’ll need to agree to reverse it for that to happen.

I also don’t know for sure that CTB wanted Traudt to get deep or want that now instead of the red jersey. Those top four frontcourt guys will be chipping away at minutes this season that it’s likely Traudt wouldn’t have been able to deliver much regardless. I think he was just too good to be able to quite fit into the red jersey, but after a game and after seeing the rotation play out for real, it was the right decision for Traudt to capitalize on a year of development while the team was very stable up front before he could. To jump in the fire next season.

You know CTB is going to pick up the conversion for next year. Maybe two. What position will he be looking at?

guard point. Plain and simple. Kihei Clark will be gone, and it seems pretty clear that UVA won’t bring in a point guard in 2023 (except for a spring sleeper who probably isn’t expected to contribute right away anyway), point guard depth will be needed. Throw in the possibility of drafting Reece Beekman (which I’ll get to shortly) and that could become a very much needed ‘Hoos’. Either way, Bennett will be shopping for PG.

Still, I expect Bennett and company to be busy at the gate this spring. Assuming Franklin doesn’t use his fifth year, they’ll lose BVP, Clark, Caffaro, Gardner, and Franklin, which leaves just seven scholarship students, three of whom most likely won’t be in regular rotation yet.

Fortunately, UVA should be fine on the wing with McKneely, Murray, Bond and Dunn potentially returning and Elijah Gertrude entering. The question will be in the front court. Blake Buchanan comes across in the class of 2023, but expecting him to contribute right away is probably a little naive. So grabbing a potential deep behind Kadin Shedrick at center or even another Jayden Gardner type player to provide more versatility and experience in the front court would be another potential priority.

What is the prospect of Reese being recruited, if he keeps showing up?

It’s definitely hard to gauge right now, but it’s definitely worth the “Will Reece be drafted in 2023?” conversation now. A general misconception about whether or not players leave early is that their games need to be complete before heading to the next level. This is part of the reason so many people doubted Trey Murphy would go when, in fact, it was very clear from very early on in his time at UVA that he would be drafted, and by the end of the season, he would likely be in the first round.

What matters is having some elite qualities that organizations can help develop a player to take advantage of while filling out the rest of the game. Reese has elite qualities that make him recruitable after this season. Right now it’s borderline drafted, in the 50’s and 60’s range or on the verge of not being drafted.

But, if he continues to show up and display scoring ability for himself at all three levels, it will become the talk of how much he’ll appreciate another year at UVA and how this season unfolds for the team. We’ve seen what late season success can do for player stock. For now, I’d say it’s more likely that Reese is back than he’s gone, but that answer could be very different in February.

Will the opponent (on Friday) have any resistance or is this just a glorified brawl?

MD Eastern Shore has a couple of decent shooters, but also no one over 6’7″. If this game lasts longer than five minutes, I’ll be shocked. Charlotte and former UVA assistant Ron Sanchez handle MDES by 33 points. The bench needs to be emptied By the end of the first half and Jaden Gardner should be feeling a good double.


If you’d like to submit a question for my next mailbag, be sure to follow me on Twitter over here and the account of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon over here In order to know when to ask questions.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
%d bloggers like this: