By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
It’s been a wild few weeks for Mark Alstork.
The graduate transfer from Wright State has caught the eye of high-majors across the country. Guys who score 19 points per game and shoot 38 percent from 3 and 85 percent at the line don’t exactly grow on trees.
Alstork’s been on a tour of some of the best programs in the nation in recent days: Georgetown, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Illinois, and South Carolina. And thanks to a connection to a new addition on Will Wade’s staff, LSU was able to land in Alstork’s final six and host him for an official visit May 15.
The Tigers’ new director of operations, Nelson Hernandez, coached Alstork at Wright State two seasons ago before joining Wade’s staff at VCU in 2016. As director of player development, he saw firsthand Alstork’s ability to play as a redshirt sophomore, and when he left the program after the 2015-16 season, he made a promise to Alstork, who was already contemplating a post-graduation transfer.
“He basically told me to handle my business: ‘I’ll be calling. I don’t know what school I’ll be at, but I’ll be calling you once you graduate,'” Alstork said Wednesday morning. “He knew my aspirations were to continue to improve and get to the highest level. He called me, and it didn’t matter what school he was at, I was going to take a look at it. He gave me his word. He knows me as a person. He knows what I’m about. He’s a loyal guy.”
Hernandez helped get Alstork’s foot in the door, and once inside, he liked what he saw. LSU was his penultimate visit, followed by Louisville on May 17. The next day he trimmed the list to 4: LSU, Pitt, Illinois and South Carolina. After all the visits were done and dusted, Alstork said the energy around the Tigers’ coaching staff really stood out to him.
“The coaching staff, they have a unique personality,” he said. “It’s exciting to be around them. They’re excited about basketball there. They’re energetic. They love it a lot. Those guys are great guys, smart.”
— Mark Alstork (@Mark_Alstork) May 18, 2017
Alstork said the way Wade thinks about the game stood out to him, citing his time as an assistant at Harvard.
“His mind is unique with the way he thinks about basketball,” Alstork said. “They’re great people to be around and a great coaching staff.”
What also stood out to Alstork was LSU’s campus as a whole: “LSU was impressive. Great facilities. Great atmosphere. And a great sports fanbase.”
Wade said earlier this week at the Tiger Tour stop in Baton Rouge that the Tigers, who still have an open scholarship, needed to add a scoring guard. Alstork fits the bill. He’s scored over 1,000 points in his career, and he’d likely step into LSU’s rotation immediately as a primary scorer.
Alstork regularly shoots from out to 25 feet, elevating well on his jumper and utilizing a high release point and his 6-foot-5 frame to get his shot off over defenders. In fact, he’s a slight better shoot in catch-and-shoot situations when guarded (42.6 percent) than unguarded (41.2 percent), according to Synergy.
He’s also gifted off the bounce, producing 0.879 points per pick and roll a year ago, per Synergy, a better figure than any LSU player posted.
Just as important to the Tigers moving forward, Alstork is a D1 veteran who can not only produce on the floor, but help provided leadership in the locker room.
“They just want me to come in there, and they’re not trying to hold me back, coming and be who I am,” he said. “I can mentor the young guys, be a leader, bring some accountability into the program, some work ethic,” Alstork said. “Everybody knows what I have on paper and what I can do on the court. It’s about the other things I can help the program with as an older guy with experience.”
Alstork says he’s planning to release his top 3 later Thursday. At that point, he hopes to take time to think it over before releasing his final decision May 24.
It’s a decision he knows won’t be easy.
“I went through this process and gave each and every one of these coaches my word, and I followed through with that,” he said. “I’m thankful and grateful for the opportunity these coaches gave me. This is one of the hardest decisions of my life. I’ll be heartfelt with coaches I tell no. I wish a part of me could go to all them.”
Just Want To Say Thank You to each & Every coach and program who gave me a chance/opportunity!I'm truly Grateful. Glory To God ! 🙏🏽
— Mark Alstork (@Mark_Alstork) May 17, 2017