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Ward named to Capital One Academic All-America Team

Forward Mathias Ward of The University of Montana has been named to the 2012-13 Capital One Academic All-America® Division I Men's Basketball Teams, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, the organization announced Feb. 21.

Ward, a 6-foot-7, 228-pound senior from Gig Harbor, Wash., was named to the third team. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in accounting, and maintains a 3.69 GPA. He has already earned a master's degree in business administration. He received his B.A. degree in business and carried a 3.84 GPA as an undergraduate at UM.

Ward is the first Grizzly player in 13 seasons to be named to the Academic All-America basketball squad. Forward Matt Williams was selected to the 2000 team.

"What a tribute to that kid and what he stands for," said Griz head coach Wayne Tinkle. "As an individual, that's about as good of an award as there is. That's why they're here. They're student athletes, and he is the epitome of that.

"He is an unbelievable person with great character," Tinkle said. "Aside from what he does on the floor for us, which we know is awesome. He's just a great representative of Grizzly basketball and of The University of Montana and our athletic department overall. Those are the kind of kids that we bring here, and it's neat to see their successes, and an award like this speaks volumes."

"Getting recognition for the hard work I've put in over the years is really special to me," Ward said. "It also speaks to the dedication of my parents and to The University of Montana as a whole. Missoula is a place where I've been able to achieve my academic goals, and that's because of the great advisors, coaches and teachers at UM."

Montana has had players named to the basketball All-American team on 11 different occasions since its inaugural year of 1980. Ward was the only Big Sky Conference player named to either the five-member first, second, and third teams this season. He is the sixth Grizzly player to be named to the prestigious group.

The Big Sky has had players named to the Academic All-America squad 24 times in the 33-year history of the award.

Ward has started all 24 games for the 19-5 Grizzlies, who are currently ranked 13th in the nation in CollegeInsider.com's Mid-Major Top 25 Poll, and in first place in the league with a 15-1 record. A four-year letterman and two-year starter, Ward has played in 118 career games (55 starts) and scored 933 career points.

He is Montana's leading scorer, averaging 14.8 points a game, which ranks him fifth in the conference. He is also ranked among the league leaders in free throw percentage (sixth, 81.7%) and field goal percentage (eighth, 51.0%). He has been named the Big Sky's "Player of the Week" twice so far this season.

Ward is the 61st student-athlete in Montana history to be named to a Division I All-America team.