Virginia's Reece Beekman to return to school for senior season

Virginia guard Reece Beekman is withdrawing from the NBA draft and returning to school for his senior season, he told ESPN.

"I've decided to go back to UVA to work towards being a first-round draft pick next year and finish my degree," Beekman told ESPN.

Beekman, the No. 43 prospect in ESPN's draft rankings, said the allure of returning to Virginia was ultimately too much for him to pass on, despite the positive feedback he received from NBA teams during the pre-draft process. He posted 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 23 minutes in his final scrimmage at the NBA draft combine, appearing comfortable playing a different style of basketball than what we saw the past three seasons in college.

Beekman was named ACC defensive player of the year and third-team All-ACC while winning the conference's regular-season championship this past campaign, making him one of the more notable players returning to the conference and the leader of Tony Bennett's Cavaliers squad next season.

The rising senior will spearhead the team's perpetually stout defense while being the primary ball handler and organizer after finishing third in the ACC in assists last season. Adding a more consistent jump shot to his repertoire -- after converting 35% of his 3-point attempts in 2022-23 -- could help Beekman break through and establish himself as a first-round pick as one of the top seniors in college basketball next season.

Virginia saw four of its top five scorers depart from last season's squad, making Beekman's return an important development. Rising sophomore Ryan Dunn also will enter next season as a projected first-round draft pick, and he looks primed for a De'Andre Hunter-type breakout campaign that could catapult him into lottery consideration. Fellow sophomore Isaac McKneely also will be asked to play a significant role along with incoming transfers Jordan Minor (Merrimack), Andrew Rohde (St. Thomas) and Jacob Groves (Oklahoma). Freshman center Blake Buchanan also should play important minutes after an impressive performance at the Nike Hoop Summit in April.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and international teams.