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Townsend Named Men’s Basketball Academic All-American Of The Year

Matt Townsend (Steve Musco photo)
Matt Townsend (Steve Musco photo)

First Ivy Leaguer To Win Prestigious Award

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Senior Matt Townsend's outstanding work on the court and in the classroom has earned him a very prestigious honor. Townsend has been named the 2014-15 Capital One Academic All-America of the Year for Division I men's basketball.

"It's such an honor," said Townsend, a molecular, cellular and developmental biology major with a 3.98 grade point average. "Coming to Yale was one of the best decisions of my life because here I've been able to challenge myself pursuing basketball and my academic passions at the highest level. I think the award speaks most to all the encouragement and support I've gotten from everyone – the coaching staff, my professors, my teammates, my family. I'm incredibly thankful for how they've pushed me, and continue to push me, to get better every day. That's a mentality I'll take with me when my time as a student-athlete is done."

This season, Townsend has helped lead the Bulldogs to a 19-8 record and an 8-2 mark in the Ivy League.  He has started 24 games, averaging 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and is leading the Ivy League in field goal shooting at 54.7 percent. In his career, he has played in 105 games and started 63 games.

In the classroom, Townsend was the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship in November, one of just 32 awarded nationally. Last year he was elected to the Yale Phi Beta Kappa society, one of only eight juniors at Yale selected, and he is a recipient of the Edward Meeker Freshman English Prize for excellence in English composition.

"Interacting with amazingly smart professors and classmates has not only helped me envision how I might make a difference post-graduation, but academics has also helped my basketball career," Townsend said. "A lot of the same skills I've developed in the classroom – hard work, competitive spirit, collaboration, focus under pressure – I try to use to find success on the court."

Off the court, Townsend serves as the co-coordinator of Yale's Bringing Relief Every Day (BRED) program, which is part of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project. He collects leftover bread and baked goods from Yale's dining halls once a week and delivers them to two New Haven halfway houses

In the summer of 2013, Townsend volunteered as a camp counselor at Camp Oasis, a week-long summer sleep-away camp for kids with inflammatory bowel disease and volunteered for 10 weeks in the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department, assisting the anesthesiology team. In the summer of 2012, Townsend volunteered in Yale-New Haven Hospital's emergency department, playing games with young patients and their families.

Following graduation, Townsend will spend the next two or three years at Oxford University in England studying medical anthropology and public policy. His career goal is in academic medicine, treating obesity and diabetes and working on food policy to make it easier for people to make healthy choices.

Townsend, who earned third team Academic All-America honors last year, is the first two-time recipient in school history. In addition he is the first Yale player to be named first team Academic All-America since Andy Karazim in 1994.

Townsend joins an esteemed list of previous Academic All-America of the Year recipients that includes North Carolina's Tyler Zeller (2012), UConn's Emeka Okefor (2003), Duke's Shane Battier (2000) and Kansas' Jacque Vaughn (1996).

Townsend is the first player from the Ivy League to win this award in men's basketball. He is just the second Ivy to be tabbed Capital One Academic All-America of the Year, following Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino who was named Capital One Academic All-America of the Year in Women's Cross Country/Track & Field in 2014.

Report filed by Tim Bennett (timothy.bennett@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity