Yale senior forward Matt Townsend missed the team’s last two games while he was in New York interviewing for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship this weekend. There was plenty of good news to go around for the Bulldogs on Sunday, however, as the team went 2-0 without their senior forward and Townsend became one of 32 American students to earn the Rhodes Scholarship this year.
According to a release from Yale, Townsend informed his head coach, James Jones, via text and plans to return to the team on Sunday.
“I’m really happy for Matt,” Jones said in the release. “I know he was dying that he couldn’t be here with his team. He’s a great teammate.”
Besides being a key member of the Bulldogs on the court, Townsend has maintained a 4.0 grade point average through six semesters as he studies molecular, cellular and developmental biology as his major. Townsend was also elected to the Yale Phi Beta Kappa society as a junior, one of only eight juniors at Yale selected for that honor.
Rhodes Scholarships don’t go to athletes very often, but 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).
Perhaps the most famous recent example of an athlete becoming a Rhodes Scholar is Florida State safety Myron Rolle earning the honor in 2010.
The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world and earning one is a gigantic honor. The scholarships are awarded based on outstanding scholarly achievement, character, commitment to others and the common good and potential for leadership in whatever career area they choose.
This is obviously an outstanding honor for Townsend and the Yale men’s basketball program. Not only has Townsend started 22 games on a 19-win team that played in the postseason last year, but now he’s among a unique and special group of outstanding students.