All-ACC honors were released for the men’s basketball season Monday, and three Virginia players found their names listed among the various awards. The awards are determined by both league coaches and a panel of media members that cover every team.
Junior guard Reece Beekman was the most lauded, earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year as well as Third-Team All-ACC and All-Defensive team. Graduate student guard Kihei Clark also was awarded both Third-Team All-ACC and All-Defensive team, while graduate student forward Jayden Gardner was named to the All-ACC honorable mention list.
Beekman was the head of the snake for an elite defensive team, one that allowed the fewest points per game in the conference. Individually, he finished third in the conference in steals per game, but much of his defensive impact cannot be quantified. Instead, Beekman was always active on that end of the floor, causing general mayhem for opposing teams.
As evidenced by his overall awards, Beekman was also a well-rounded player in 2022-23. He averaged 9.3 points per game, but his real value came as a distributor. Beekman led the league with an impressive 3.7 assist-to-turnover ratio, which came in handy when the team needed a calming presence.
Clark also had a strong year in his fifth with the Cavaliers, finishing second on the team with 11.1 points per game. Like Beekman, though, Clark was also an excellent passer, finishing behind his teammate with a 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio, good for second in the league. On the defensive end, he was an impressive perimeter defender, frustrating guards across the plague that were often much bigger than him.
Finally, Gardner was the most consistent frontcourt player on Virginia’s team, averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. His patented mid-range shot was practically impossible to guard when he was hitting, and his scoring presence was a constant when the Cavaliers went through scoring droughts.
Coach Tony Bennett was also recognized by his peers. Bennett was one of just five coaches in the ACC to receive votes for the conference Coach of the Year award, and while he did not win, it showcased how great of a job he did yet again as Virginia’s coach.