Jamar named Montana MVP

MISSOULA — The University of Montana’s Kareem Jamar has been named the recipient of the 2012-13 Carl E. Dragstedt Award (Most Valuable Player).  The award was presented to him Tuesday (April 30) evening at the team’s annual awards dinner at the Depot Restaurant.

Will Cherry was given the John Eaheart Memorial Award (Outstanding Defensive Player).  He has now been the recipient of Montana’s John Eaheart Memorial Award a school-record (although he was the co-winner of the award twice) four straight seasons.

Mathias Ward was presented two awards: the Naseby Rhinehart Award (Most Inspirational Player) and the Allan Nielsen Award (Best Represents Grizzly Basketball).  This is the second season in a row Ward has won (he shared the award with Derek Selvig last season) the Allan Nielsen Award.

Seventh-year head coach Wayne Tinkle’s Griz hosted and won the league’s 2013 post-season tourney, to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in school history, and a record third time in his tenure.   The Grizzlies won the Big Sky Conference’s regular-season championship with a school-record ledger of 19-1.

This seasons’s Big Sky Conference MVP, Jamar, a 6-5 guard-forward from Venice, Calif., was Montana’s second leading scorer and top rebounder, averaging 13.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

The junior standout, who was a first team all-conference pick, was also ranked fifth in the league in assists (3.7 apg) and three-point percentage (44.1 percent), ninth in scoring, and 11th in rebounds. He was also named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) All-District team.

“Kareem just does so many things for us” Tinkle said.  “He has an extremely high basketball IQ, is unselfish, and is blessed with great strength.  The main thing with him is his unselfishness.  He can make so many things happen, and he really puts the team first.

“He’s (Jamar) going to be a guy who we really lean on moving forward, on and off the court to lead this group forward,” Tinkle said; “and make sure that we keep taking steps forward and that we don’t just rest on what we’ve done.”

Jamar was also chosen the conference post-season tournament MVP, as he averaged 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in wins over Northern Colorado (70-56) and Weber State (67-64).  He also was the MVP in last year’s post-season tourney, making him the fourth player in league history to win the award two straight years.

Cherry, a 6-foot-1 senior guard from West Oakland, Calif., was named the Big Sky’s “Defensive Player of the Year” for the second consecutive season.  Cherry and Jamar shared Montana’s MVP award a year ago.

Despite an injury-plagued senior season, Cherry was a first team all-league selection this season – the third consecutive season he had been so-honored.  He averaged 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.9 steals his senior year.

“It’s no surprise that he (Cherry) has won that award (Eaheart Award), because when you look at our teams’ success and this recent four-year run, and how much Will has contributed since day one, which is unusual,” Tinkle said.  “We allowed him to play through mistakes early on, knowing that’s going to benefit us and him in the long run.  His commitment to the defensive end – you just don’t see out of players a lot these days.  His ability to set the tone for us on the defensive end has just been huge.

“It’s not the only award Will has won during his career with us,” Tinkle continued.  “He’s been named to All-American teams, all-district teams, not to mention being first team All-Big Sky three times.  We’re going to really miss Will and what he brought to our program.”

The past two years Cherry was named to the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Defensive All-America team; to Lou Henson’s Mid-Major All-America team; and to the USBWA’s All-District  team.

“People say that the hardest thing to do at our level is to maintain consistency, and he’s proven that, and he’s done it for four years, and he’s had a huge impact.  The fact that he started that amount of games (104) is just incredible.  He’s meant a lot, and really given his heart and soul to this program.”

A 6-7 senior forward from Gig Harbor, Wash., Ward was the Grizzlies’ leading scorer, averaging 14.8 points a game.  He started the first 24 games of the season, but unfortunately he was lost for the season after undergoing surgery on March 6.  He was ranked sixth in the Big Sky in scoring, sixth in free throw percentage (81.8%), and seventh in field goal percentage (51.0%).  Ward was a second team all-conference pick and also named to the USBWA’s All-District team.

“Those are two deserving awards for Mathias,” Tinkle said.  “He did it in the classroom and on the court, and is just a great representative of Grizzly basketball.  The neat thing is that these awards are voted on by the teams, and it tells you what a light they held him in.  I am really proud of him and his accomplishments.”

Ward was also named to the 2012-13 Capital One Academic All-America® Division I Men’s Basketball third team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).  He was the first Grizzly basketball player in 13 seasons to be named to the Academic All-America basketball squad, as  forward Matt Williams was selected to the team in  2000.

Montana’s two seniors,  Cherry and Ward, were both a big part of Montana’s 93 wins and  consecutive 20-win seasons over the past four seasons during their stellar careers.  Cherry had 104 career starts — the most in school history, while Ward played in 116 career games.

 — UM Sports Information