Player succeeds in the key and class

Nathan Bottiger, Sports Editor

The sound of rustling papers and faint residual music tends to come from one particular library cubicle, whose occupant seems to tower over others in the room.

Pitt-Johnstown 6-foot 9-inch sophomore Ian Vescovi had a 4.0 GPA last semester, which may be fitting since he studies in the library 12 hours a week. Vescovi’s major is in mathematics with a minor in computer science.

Vescovi is also a blocking machine on the basketball court, and is the team’s starting center.

Vescovi doesn’t seem to be the stereotypical athlete who strives to maintain average grades merely to keep playing.

Actually, Vescovi said the stereotype against athletes is unfair.

“That’s not an accurate assessment of the majority,” Vescovi said. “The majority of us work pretty hard, but what normally gets publicity is athletes making poor decisions, or not taking class seriously.”

Senior Captain Nick Novak said he also thinks the stereotype is untrue.

“It’s pretty silly because everyone wants to succeed, and no one wants to do badly,” Novak said.

“Ian is just a top-tier example of that, and definitely has it figured out how to balance in both areas.”

Vescovi made the NCAA Division II Capital One Academic All-District First-Team for his success in the classroom and on the court.

Vescovi is Pitt-Johnstown’s leading rebounder, and has a consistent 54.4 field goal percentage. Vescovi ‘s 1.95 blocks-per-game had him ranked No. 24 nationally in Division II.

His blocks-per-game average makes him the leading blocker in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Conference.

There are eight districts that receive the district honors, and, since Vescovi made this district’s first-team, he is eligible for the national ballot that is to award first-, second- and third-team national honors later this month.

Vescovi said he was surprised he received the honor.

“I wasn’t sure how the process worked.”

Vescovi said he usually studies after his classes are over in the afternoon, and sometimes after practice is over at night.

“I really enjoy the mathematics behind it, but, a lot of math-related jobs deal with computer programming.”

Vescovi said he sometimes envies his older brothers because they were naturally talented in the classroom. He said he has to put a lot more effort into the material than they did.

“I’m a bit jealous of how easy stuff comes to them.”

Vescovi said balancing academics and basketball can be troublesome at times. He said he does some work while at away games.

“It’s nice when we have a stretch of home games to get caught up on things.”

Vescovi said his mom was particularly excited about the honor, and that his parents always have been supportive of his classroom performance and basketball career.

“I think it was as rewarding for them as it was for me.”

Vescovi said his coaches and teammates have also been congratulatory about his accomplishment.

Novak said he is proud of Vescovi for his acheivements and for setting an example for others. He said Vescovi has been backing him up by blocking shots whenever he gets beat by an opponent.

“I think he’s a good example for any student-athlete, especially the off-the-court effort that it takes to be that successful with things that will help you after college.”

Head Coach Bob Rukavina said Vescovi entered his red-shirt freshman year three years ago weighing 185 pounds, and has since then worked hard to get bigger and stronger. He weighs 220 pounds now.

“He has shown steady improvement throughout his three years with us.”

Rukavina said Vescovi has contributed in scoring and rebounding, especially in some of their tougher games.

“He is a tremendous young man, and we feel his next two years with us are going to be the best. He is a very competitive player, and is a great teammate.”

Vescovi said he isn’t sure how the national ballot will turn out, since there are 40 other student-athletes eligible to fill the three teams.

“It would be exciting to make it, but, if not, I’m happy to just be considered.”