Weight: 190 lb.
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Alstork is personally one of my favorite guys coming in with the Illinois 2017 class. The multitude of cries from Illini fans regarding the need for guard and scoring help was silenced a few months back when highly-sought graduate transfer Mark Alstork, formerly of Wright State, announced his intent to join the University of Illinois basketball program.
Many praised the multi-talented Alstork for his decision, joining a team that needed guard commits, and a team which will be ran by Coach Brad Underwood, who runs a guard-centered offense that focuses on mobility, dribble-drive, ball movement, and choosing your shots wisely (and hopefully, converting them).
Alstork joined a team that wasn’t looking guard heavy at first, regardless of the return of freshmen stand-out Te’Jon Lucas. The team lost a large percentage of their points per game last year due to graduation, especially with the loss of instant-impact player Malcolm Hill, who finished amongst the highest scoring Illini in program history.
Though Mark Smith, locally known for being the most recent Mr. Basketball for Illinois, later would commit to the Illini, Alstork will look to lock up a starting spot due to his versatility of shots, and incredibly large willingness to work, improving both himself and his teammates.
Alstork wasn’t a high-profile guard coming out of high school. He started out as a three star recruit, and the number 10 player in the state of Ohio. He settled for a commitment to Ball State in the end. Alstork shot in the low 30 percentile range in his freshmen season with the Cardinals, and his game really started to develop after that season, when he left Ball State and joined Wright State.
Sitting out his first year at Wright due to transfer regulations, Alstork’s work ethic and hustle started to show. He hit the gym hard, and then, due to the struggle he put in, his basketball stock started to rise. He was an impact player in the next three seasons at Wright State, and last year finished with 19 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
When you watch his tape, you can see that his impact on the court runs deeper than the statistic show. He knows how to run an offense, and to make sure there is consistent ball movement on the floor. He also possesses a similar style to that of Illini graduate Malcolm Hill, in his ability to drive to the lane, and find his teammates in the best situations to shoot.
Much like I said in my last article about Gregory Eboigbodin, I really enjoy Alstork’s versatility and effort on both sides of the court. Brad Underwood’s reputational lies in part on his ability to get players who may not be the highest rated recruits, to perform on high levels, and ultimately win games through speed, hustle, and ball movement. There’s a reason that Alstork was one of the most sought after transfers out of this year’s class: he has the potential to make an offense his, and control the flow of the game. His veteran leadership will come in handy for an Illini team that is short on leadership in the guard position. This doesn’t come due to lack of experience, just that the Illini team is young. Alstork’s experience will help guys like Te’Jon Lucas, Mark Smith, and (standout recruit) Trent Frazier develop their game.
Alstork’s ability to score will no doubt come in handy in a run-and-gun offense like the one Brad Underwood is building at the U of I. He’ll be a fun player to watch when the season comes around, and a small lineup isn’t out of the question in any way shape or form.
Fans of pure offensive firepower will love Alstork. He will be an explosive player for the Illini this year, and will be a threat whenever the ball is in his hands. Anyone that follows Mark Alstork on Snapchat (@malstork) or any other social media, knows that he works hard (Like taking 500+ shots a day, and making a percentile of them in the upper 80s) and puts his all into the game.
To me, it’s been fun to watch his recruiting process because he has always seemed like a well-rounded guy, who has his priorities together. I don’t think it’s wrong to say that in any way. In a sports world with too many unsavory characters, Alstork has the talent and hustle to show that good guys can be successful.
He’ll be an extremely useful asset to Coach Underwood and company, and will be a fun player to watch, who will definitely take in the atmosphere of a loud student section in the Orange Krush. To me, Alstork will fit right in with the Illini, and will be a huge performer for the Illini come the time for Big Ten play. His size, speed, and hustle on and off the ball will be fun to watch for any fan of the game, Illini or not.
Check back for the next breakdown of the Illinois recruiting class coming in a few days, and check the Sports Guys twitter for an update on who the next breakdown will cover!