Fourth-year basketball players Johnson, Simpson named academic all-Americans

University of Chicago fourth-years Matt Johnson and Taylor Simpson have been named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America NCAA Division III basketball teams.

The College Sports Information Directors of America selected 15 players for both the men's and women's teams; Johnson made its second team and Simpson was named to its third team. Johnson carries a 3.56-grade-point average as a law, letters and society major, while Simpson, who is majoring in visual arts and pre-med, has a 3.81 GPA. Both players are three-time University Athletic Association all-academic selections.

Including all sports, only 12 Maroons have been recognized as all-Americans since UChicago joined the UAA in 1987; the last women’s basketball academic all-American was chosen in 1986, before UChicago joined the conference.

Johnson currently leads the UAA in scoring with 20.6 points per game. He scored a school- and UAA-record 49 points in the Maroons’ 103-102 win over Emory University on Jan. 27, and his game-winning 3-pointer was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

A preseason all-American and last year’s UAA Player of the Year, Simpson has helped lead the second-ranked Maroons to its second straight conference title and berth in the NCAA tournament. She leads UChicago (24-0) in scoring (13 points per game) and rebounding (8.3 per game).

Johnson and Simpson each have been active in community service while at UChicago, and both have been accepted into the Teach for America Program. Johnson participated in the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Dream to Read program aimed at improving youth literacy, as well as in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Simpson founded the UChicago chapter of Global Brigades, a student-led global health and sustainable development organization, and prior to her sophomore year helped to procure $200,000 of medicine for medical clinics in Honduras. She spent the summer before her junior year teaching visual arts to children in Varanasi, India.

Both teams finish the regular-season Saturday at home against rival Washington University, first with the women’s game at 1 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 3.