Matthew Ward Named TR Arkansas Boys Player of the Year

By Walter Woodie Special to the Charleston Express

Last year, Charleston’s Matthew Ward won Times Record Newcomer of the Year honors as a sophomore. As a junior, Ward took his game up a notch, pushed the Tigers to the state championship game and is the Times Record Arkansas Boys Player of the Year.

"Matthew’s skill set is as good as anybody on any level in the state," Charleston coach B.J. Ross said. "But what really sets him apart is how hard he works to get better. You won’t find anyone that works harder than him. Watch him handle the ball, the way he shoots his jumper — he has textbook form."

Ward averaged 22 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Tigers (31-6).

Ross said Ward could have had much bigger numbers if the team had needed it. Ross points to Ward’s career-high 41 points in a quarterfinal win in the 3A State Tournament as evidence.

"I think he realized about halfway through this year that he can score any time he wants to," Ross said. "He likes to get his teammates involved in the offense for the good of the team. But when we really need a bucket, he could go and get it. He probably only played about two and a half quarters a game because we usually had a pretty good lead."

Ross said Ward’s performance at the state tournament opened the eyes of a number of college recruiters. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Ross thinks Ward has a bright college future.

"I think he is just going to keep working hard and keep improving over the offseason and next year," Ross said. "Some of the Division-II schools have really started to take a lot of interest in him. He’s just going to keep getting better and better because of the way he works at it."

Local Honorable Mentions:

Charleston: Ty Storey, Andrew Smith

County Line: Evan Franklin, Trent Gattis

Lavaca: Anthony Todaro

Ozark: Jake Simpson

Paris: Jordan Forbis, Matthew Fitzjurls

Subiaco: Cash Krueger