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LEWISBURG, Pa. — One day the accolades might matter. One day, becoming an Academic All-American, the Bucknell men's basketball team's all-time leading scorer, being named the Patriot League Player of the Year (again), being among the best basketball players in the NCAA and a host of other personal achievements will all mean a lot more to Mike Muscala. But not today. Today the senior basketball star is focused solely on winning a Patriot League Championship.
"I've always been really focused on the team, and our biggest goal this year has always been to win this Patriot League Championship," Muscala answered when asked about what personal achievement he's the most proud of. "To be here three years in a row is a blessing. We're trying to make the most of it this year and win the game and get to the big dance."
The success Muscala and his teammates have achieved is hard to ignore. The Bison captured the regular season Patriot League title with a 25-5 record, the third straight season with 25 wins — a program first. Muscala led the way, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds. He's the only Division I player in the country to average at least 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.
But the management and Spanish major's hard work off the court is yielding similar results. Last week, along with being named the Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Muscala was also named the Patriot League's Scholar-Athlete of the Year — the first time in league history a player has won all three awards. On top of his Academic All-American honors, Muscala and senior guard Bryson Johnson were named to the league's all-academic team. Muscala is also one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, recognizing achievement in community, classroom, character and competition.
"Ever since I was in elementary school, my parents preached studying hard in the classroom," Muscala said. "My dad always wanted me to try to be an Academic All-American. He thought that was something I could strive for. It's something that I got this year so I know my parents are proud of that."
In all likelihood, Wednesday's game against Lafayette will be Muscala's last in Sojka Pavillion. He doesn't like to think about it — about the emotions tied to the end of his four years at Bucknell. But with his sights set on an NBA career, he has reflected on how Bucknell has prepared him for whatever comes next.
"[Because of] the liberal arts aspect of it, there's a whole wide range of experiences, so I really like that about Bucknell. I think it helps me as a person, even as an athlete," said Muscala. "What I've learned in the classroom has really helped me just mature as a person overall, and what I've learned on the court too. I think both go hand in hand and have given me a lot of experience. Both have really helped me prepare for the real world."
One day (and soon), the real world will matter a lot more. But today, Muscala just wants one thing: another win in a Bison uniform.
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