Evaluating Reece Beekman, Jayden Gardner, and Terquavion Smith

February 8th, 2023

By Alan Lu

Recently, Virginia’s 6-3 junior guard, Reece Beekman has been rising up draft boards rapidly due to his strong play this season.  Yesterday, I decided to watch him play in an ACC basketball game against Terquavion Smith and NC State.  Smith is a speedy, skilled combo guard that has turned in some really strong performances this year, but he’s gone into a shooting slump and has seen his shooting percentages decline recently.  This was a good opportunity to watch both of them play in a highly competitive in-conference basketball game.  Here are my thoughts on how Beekman and other various prospects fared on this day.

Reece Beekman is an athletic, high-motor guard that was able to throw down a couple of highlight reel-worthy dunks, and he scored 15 points and had 4 assists in his team’s February 7th win over NC State.
(Photo:
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images, via The Washington Post)

Virginia’s 6-3 junior guard, Reece Beekman is an athletic, unselfish playmaker that consistently has made solid team plays throughout the year.  In this game, he quietly had a solid showing in his team’s win over NC State.

Beekman did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He is an excellent cutter that would make swift backdoor cuts to score, and he was able to throw down a high-flying dunk off of a cut.  He also would score on speedy drives in transition, and he was able to throw down a quick, two-handed jam on the break.

He also showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble.  He can finish plays using either hand, and sometimes he will shield his body from the defender to score.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to finish plays in traffic, and he had several of his shots blocked.  He didn’t look to take many outside shots against NC State.  He took a rushed, baseline mid-range floater that missed completely once, and Beekman did not attempt a three-point shot in this contest.

Plus, he also showcased solid playmaking skills.  He is a patient, unselfish player that can make an assortment of passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He excelled at making passes off the dribble, and he also threw an interior pass to help a teammate score on the break.  Sometimes Beekman would be too passive on offense, but he generally would make sound passes and decisions on the court.

He also played solid defense in this game.  Beekman would pick off passes to get steals, and he also jumped on a loose ball to get another.  He also did a good job of contesting threes to force misses.  On one play though, he got outmuscled when defending on a drive, which led him to commit a foul that time.

Overall, Reece Beekman played well to help lead his team to a win over NC State.  He’ll need to show that he can be a consistent shooter and scorer in games, but his ability to pass, defend, and score on improvisation plays could enable him to be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round of the 2023 draft.

Virginia’s 6-6 senior forward, Jayden Gardner scored 18 points and had 5 rebounds in his team’s 63-50 win over NC State.
(Photo:
Mike Kropf/Associated Press)

Jayden Gardner had a solid showing in his team’s win over NC State.  He is a strong, mobile combo forward that thrived as a scorer in this game, and he especially excelled at scoring out of the post as well as on fast breaks.

Gardner showed a satisfactory ability to score out of the post as well as on mid-range jumpers.  He showed a good shooting touch to score out of the post and from the mid-range, although sometimes he would be streaky with his jump shot.  He also thrived at scoring on fast breaks, and he was able to score on a powerful dunk in transition once.  He didn’t take a single three-point shot, but he was very effective at making plays on offense.  Gardner also displayed decent playmaking skills.  He was able to throw an entry pass to notch an assist, and he did not turn the ball over once on offense.

Plus, Gardner was able to haul in his fair share of boards when he was on the floor.  In general, Jayden Gardner played well in this game, and he is a very productive player in college basketball.  On the other hand, he’s an undersized power forward who doesn’t possess ideal size to play inside, and he will need to extend his shooting range and expand upon his perimeter skills.  Still, his solid shooting touch inside the arc suggests that he could eventually expand his range out to the three-point land someday, and Gardner could end up making his way to the NBA sometime down the road.

Terquavion Smith didn’t play well in his team’s double-digit loss to Virginia.  He had a terrible first half, and for most of this game, he threw up bad shots, and he took a lot of rushed, contested shots that led to a lot of misses.  He tended to play too fast and out of control, and he didn’t take very good shots in this game.  He did heat up a bit in the second half and was able to knock down some shots, but it was too little, too late, and it wasn’t enough to wash away the rampant shot chucking and misses in this game.

He didn’t shoot the ball very well, but he showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  Smith was able to score on an acrobatic, reverse layup, and he can finish plays using either hand.  He is a speedy combo guard that can get up a lot of shots.  On the downside, he would tend to rush himself, which would lead him to miss on some wildly contested, off-balanced shots in this game.  He did manage to score on a fadeaway jumper from the high post though, so Smith showed the ability to score on post-up plays, which is a plus.

He didn’t shoot well from beyond the arc, but Smith was able to knock down some really tough shots in the second half.  He was able to make a step-back three.  He also was able to make a very deep three later on.  However, he tended to miss a lot of rushed threes both off the catch and dribble, and he even missed one that resulted in a wedgie in this game.  Smith took a lot of shots in volume, but he didn’t take many open shots, and his tendency to force up a lot of quick, contested shots against a loaded defense led him to have a poor shooting night in this game against Virginia.

Smith showcased adequate playmaking skills in this game.  While he predominantly looked to score and didn’t shoot very well from the field against Virginia, but he was able to make some good passes on offense.  He generally excelled at making passes off the dribble, and he can quickly get the ball out to shooters.  On the downside, he also would play too wildly that would lead to turnovers.  He over-dribbled and lost the ball once.  He also threw an inaccurate pass to a teammate in the corner that led his teammate to step out of bounds.

Also, he was able to get a pair of rebounds to help chip in on the glass.  He also struggled defensively.  For the positives, Smith was able to jump on a loose ball to get a steal.  He also would contest jumpers to force some misses.  However, he had a tendency to get outmuscled when defending in one-on-one situations, which would lead him to give up baskets at the rim.  His lack of size would make it difficult for him to contest jump shots, which would lead him to also allow scores.  He also would sometimes lose his focus on the defensive end, and there was one play where he lost track of his man on a cut, which led him to give up a dunk to his opponent.

Overall, Terquavion Smith did not shoot the ball well, and he took a lot of questionable shots against a very good Virginia defense that led him to have a bad shooting night in this game.  Though he is a speedy combo guard that can put up points in a hurry, he will need to improve his shot selection and decision making skills, which could go a long way to help improve his offensive efficiency.  He may be too risky for an NBA team to pick in the top 20, but Smith’s athleticism, shot making ability, and potential could make him an intriguing candidate for NBA teams to consider in the late first to the second round range of the 2023 draft.

Virginia’s senior point guard, Kihei Clark quietly played well in his team’s win over NC State.  Though he didn’t look to shoot or score very much, he is a speedy playmaker that has been integral to his team’s strong play this season.  Clark showed that he can score on speedy drives as well as off of cuts, and he showed a knack for getting fouled to get to the free throw line.  Sometimes though, he would get blocked when driving to the hoop, as his diminutive stature can make it difficult for him to finish plays in traffic.  He didn’t take many outside shots, but he missed his lone three-point attempt from beyond the arc.

He also passed and handled the ball very well in this game.  Clark showed a knack for finding open teammates on the move to rack up assists, and he is an unselfish player that will consistently look to find the open man.  On one play though, he over-dribbled and lost the ball, but he generally made sound decisions with the ball in his hands. 

Also, Clark was able to get a pair of boards to help his team chip in on the glass.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  Clark was able to jump a pass to get a steal.  He would contest outside shots to force misses.  However, his lack of size would sometimes make it difficult for him to contest jumpers from taller players, and he also got outmuscled when defending in the post that led him to give up a basket once.

In summary, Kihei Clark had a solid showing in this game.  He is an agile, skilled playmaker that can reliably run the team at the point, and he also is a tough, hard-nosed defender that will apply heavy ball pressure and help his team get stops in games.  He’ll need to improve his jump shot and show that he can match up to taller players on a consistent basis at the next level, but he is a tough, gritty point guard that could end up competing for a roster spot in the NBA sometime in the near future.

NC State’s 6-3 senior guard, Casey Morsell shot the ball very well in his team’s loss to Virginia.  He is a fairly athletic, skilled guard that showed a knack for making three-point shots, especially from the corners, and he also made a smooth, fadeaway mid-range jumper.  Morsell was the most consistent shooter for NC State in this game, and he played surprisingly well against his former team, Virginia.

On the other hand, he didn’t really show much in the non-shooting or scoring related elements of the game and also was foul prone defensively, as his lack of size made it difficult for him to contest jump shots.  Overall, Morsell played well, and he is a sharpshooter that could project into a microwave type of scorer role in the NBA.

Virginia’s 6-11 junior big man, Kadin Shedrick also played well in his team’s win over NC State.  He showed a knack for scoring on the move, off of cuts and rolls to the rim.  He also defended very well, especially from the interior.  He played sound position defense to help his team defend in the post, and he also would block and alter shots to help his team protect the paint.  Shedrick struggled to score off the dribble, but he made solid, energetic hustle plays to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He also set a solid off-ball screen to help his teammate score on an open jump shot.  Overall, Shedrick played well in his team’s win over NC State.  He will need to extend his shooting range and expand upon his skill set offensively, but even if he doesn’t, he could project to be an energetic, backup big man at the NBA.

Virginia’s 6-4 freshman guard, Isaac McKneely had a solid all-around performance in his team’s win over NC State.  He shot the ball very well, and he was able to make a pair of spot-up threes off the catch.  He showed that he can run off ball screens to knock down outside shots, and he also made a step-back jumper from just inside the arc.

He also passed the ball well, and he is an unselfish player that would make swift passes to find the open man to notch assists.  McKneely also played satisfactory defense.  He was able to recover to block a shot off of a cut to get a stop for his team late in this game.  He also would consistently contest outside shots, although sometimes he would give up a bit too much space to shooters at times.

Overall, McKneely played very well in this game.  Though he doesn’t possess ideal size or athleticism to play out on the wing, he showed off a versatile skill set and a good feel for the game.  He played very well in this game, and he kind of reminds me of another former Virginia player, Ty Jerome. McKneely may need to show that he can reliably run the point, but his ability to make shots and advanced feel for the game could enable him to be an effective role player in the NBA someday.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Beekman, Jayden Gardner, Terquavion Smith, and other various prospects fared in Virginia’s win over NC State in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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