NORMAL - Mike Vandello made himself a favorite among Illinois State basketball fans by playing hard, studying hard and smiling a lot. That made him a solid choice to receive the Bob and Audrey Weber Endowed Scholarship, named after a pair of longtime Illinois State followers.
The Webers bought their initial pair of ISU season tickets in 1974 and Bob has continued to support the Redbirds after Audrey's death in 1991.
Illinois State coach Porter Moser is grateful for the Webers' loyalty.
"Bob bleeds red," said Moser. "All you have to do is look at any event, whether it is a radio show, Breakfast Club or game - he's there. The true heart of Bob is how passionate he is through the ups and downs."
Vandello led all newcomers in minutes last season (582), starting nine games and playing in all 28. He carries an overall grade point average of 4.0, and is working on a degree in both biology and business.
"It is really fun to get academic reports back from the faculty on Mike Vandello," said Moser. "You see comments like 'best student in the class' and 'never had a student work harder.' He is extremely committed to academic excellence."
By the end of last season, Vandello was scoring 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. He tallied three double-digit games and finished the year connecting on 10 of his last 20 3-point attempts.
"I'm really excited about receiving this award," said Vandello. "It means a lot to have this endowed scholarship come from season-ticket holders and Redbird supporters.
"For me both basketball and my studies are the same, what you put in is what you get out of it. I'm always putting in extra time in my studying because it just doesn't come to me. I have to work at it to do well."
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