Sycamores rarely make a bobble, but now they've got a bobblehead

Mar. 22—The NCAA Tournament may have overlooked the Indiana State Sycamores, but the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum hasn't.

That unique shrine in Milwaukee, Wis., has created a Sycamore Sam bobblehead to toast ISU's breakout men's basketball season. An initial total of 2,024 of the figurines are available, beginning Friday. They come individually numbered and standing on a base of blue and white — ISU's school colors.

Sycamore Sam, of course, is ISU's nondescript animal mascot — Squirrel? Coyote? Cartoon wolf? — that entertains fans at ISU basketball games.

Actually, the play on the court has been plenty entertaining this season. The 29-6 Sycamores just beat Southern Methodist 101-92 in the opener of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday. ISU is vying for the NIT title, rather than NCAA Tournament victories after the Selection Committee bypassed the Sycamores last Sunday.

That decision disappointed Phil Sklar, like it did the Sycamores and their fans.

"We've been following along with Indiana State's great season, and were disappointed when they didn't make the NCAA field. But they're rolling along with the NIT, and we still wanted to celebrate them with a bobblehead," Sklar — co-founder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Museum in Milwaukee — said Thursday by phone.

The museum has produced bobblehead likenesses of figures from sports, politics, pop culture and more. Its bestseller to date depicts Dr. Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who guided America through the COVID-19 pandemic response, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wearing mittens (as he did at President Joe Biden's inauguration), and Loyola University supporter Sister Jean.

The museum itself contains more than 10,000 bobbleheads on display, since its origination in 2014. Sixteen thousand visitors toured it in 2023.

It's currently producing bobbleheads toasting nearly 20 college basketball teams in postseason play, most of them in the NCAA Tournament. But ISU's attention-getting performance this season attracted Sklar's crew to the NIT participant Sycamores.

Thus, Sycamore Sam joins the list. The mascot was conjured in 1995 and ended up as sort of a blue fox. ISU's official team nickname is the Sycamores. So there's that.

"I don't think [Sam's] had a bobblehead, at least for a while," Sklar said.

Any curious ISU backers wanting one should be patient. The figurines, which cost $35 plus an $8 shipping fee, can be preordered now online at but won't be shipped until August, Sklar said.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or