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Thursday, March 3

Plank academic all-American, Valley Scholar-Athlete

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[MARCH 3, 2005]  NORMAL -- Junior Neil Plank became the 12th academic all-American in Illinois State basketball history Wednesday, while also being named to the 2005 Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete First Team.

Plank, who carries a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade-point average in finance, was a second-team selection on the 2005 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America University Division Men's Basketball Team. Plank is ISU's first academic all-American since Sean Riley in 1999.

On the academic all-America first team are Eric Castro of SMU, Will Emerson of Mercer, Johannes Herber of West Virginia, Chris Hill of Michigan State and Derek Winans of Southeast Missouri State. Hill is the Academic All-American of the Year.

Joining Plank on the second team are Turner Battle of Buffalo, Erik Benzel of Denver, Craig Forth of Syracuse and Dan Grunefeld of Stanford.

In addition to earning academic all-America honors, Plank highlighted a list of 18 student-athletes honored as part of the 2004-05 MVC Scholar-Athlete Teams, announced by the league office.

Plank, from Mount Zion, was a second-team MVC Scholar-Athlete selection in 2003-04, and he is joined by two others who earned second-team honors a year ago: Jerod Adler of Indiana State and Rob Kampman of Wichita State.

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The criteria for the Missouri Valley Conference's Scholar-Athlete Team voting parallel the standards for College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America voting. Nominees must be starters or important reserves with at least a 3.00 cumulative grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. Student-athletes must have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at their institution (true freshmen and redshirt freshmen were not eligible) and must have completed at least one full academic year at their institution.

"Neil is a young man that takes a tremendous amount of pride in his academics and finding that perfect balance between being a student and an athlete," head coach Porter Moser said. "I know that each of these honors was a goal for him, and I'm very happy that he achieved them. It is very deserving."

Entering the conference tournament, Plank is averaging 7.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He has played in 27 games, all as a reserve. He ranks third on the team in rebounding with 108 boards and is tied for fourth in scoring.

[Todd Kober, assistant athletics director, media relations,
Illinois State University]

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