KENT, Ohio – Forward Matt Townsend is a Rhodes Scholar. Yale head coach James Jones got the good news from Townsend in a text that he saw shortly after the Bulldogs had beaten Southern Illinois on Saturday at Kent State.
Townsend, who was in New York for his official interview, missed the victories over Illinois-Chicago on Friday and Southern Illinois on Saturday. He plans to rejoin the team in time for Sunday's game against Kent State.
"I'm really happy for Matt," Jones said. "I know he was dying that he couldn't be here with his team. He's a great teammate."
Townsend is the fourth Yale men's basketball player to be named a Rhodes Scholar, joining Robert McCallum (1968), Mike Oristaglio (1974) and James McGuire (1976).
"It makes me understand that I'm at the right place," Jones said of the significance of Townsend's honor to the program. "Basketball is important and academics are important. Yale is the best of everything."
Townsend has maintained a 4.0 grade point average through six semesters and has earned numerous other accolades for his work in the classroom, including being elected to the Yale Phi Beta Kappa society as a junior, one of only eight juniors at Yale selected. He is a molecular, cellular and developmental biology major.
On the court, Townsend has appeared in 82 games, including making 41 starts for the Bulldogs. Last year he started a career-high 22 games and was the only player on the team to start all 14 Ivy League games. He finished fifth on the team in scoring and helped Yale to 19 wins, a second-place finish in the Ivy League and reach the championship game of the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament. In his sophomore season, Townsend was third on the team in rebounding (4.0 rpg.), tied for third in scoring (7.7 ppg.) and was the recipient of the team's top defensive player award. He scored in double figures in four of the last five games of the season, including a career-high 19-point performance at Cornell. In his rookie season, Townsend appeared in 21 games off the bench.
The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. Each year, 32 young Americans are selected as Rhodes Scholars, through a decentralized process representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievement but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.
Report filed by Tim Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity