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|Stewart named to Southland Academic team|
Sophomore guard Gary Stewart of Vidalia represents Northwestern State on the 2011-12 Southland Conference All-Academic Basketball Team, carrying a 3.44 grade point average along with playing an important role for the Demons on the court.
"I received a text from my coach (Mike McConathy) and he told me I made the academic team," Stewart said. "I was surprised because I did not even know there was a conference academic team. It's a real big honor."
Stewart, who was valedictorian of his class two years ago at Vidalia High School, is majoring in psychology.
A member of NSU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, he was one of 10 players from around the conference chosen for the team by head coaches, athletic academic counselors and sports information directors at the 12 member institutions.
"It's kind of tough playing basketball and keeping up with your studies," Stewart said. "Especially with all the traveling. But the teachers are very understanding and they work with me when I have to be on the road and give me an extra day to get things done."
Stewart played in all 32 games, starting three, this past season. He had averages of 5.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game while shooting 69 percent from the free throw line. He posted six double-figure scoring games, including season highs of 13 against Campbell and at Central Arkansas as he helped spark NSU wins.
He also scored 12 at points Mississippi State.
The Demons finished 16-16 overall and 8-8 in the Southland Conference.
"It could have been a better year," Stewart said. "We did not play together at the beginning of the season, but played more as a team toward the end."
The 6-foot-4 guard made 24 of 31 (.774) shots from the free throw line, the highest of any returning player. He made a team-high .438 percent from 3-point range, making 21.
Stewart led Vidalia High to the 2010 Class 3A state title, as championship game Most Valuable Player, with 17 points, grabbing 16 rebounds in 82-59 victory over Carroll.
He earned his second straight first-team Class 3A All-State honor as a senior, when he averaged 17 points, and was voted state Class 3A MVP as a junior when Vidalia made its first state championship game appearance since 1979 as he averaged 17 points.
"I was pretty satisfied with the year I had this year," Stewart said. "I had a couple of injuries which slowed me down some. But I played a good bit and tried my best when I was out there to be productive."
Stewart is looking forward to next season.
"I want to be one of the main players on the team," he said. "I am looking to show more leadership. My main goal is to make it to the NCAA Tournament. I feel we will have a team competitive enough to make that happen."
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