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Illini Basketball Player Preview: Mark Alstork

Can the Wright State graduate transfer provide a veteran boost to the young Illini?

NCAA Basketball: Wright State at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Alstork is a graduate transfer who played the last two years at Wright State University. This past offseason, the 6-foot-5 redshirt senior chose to play his final season at Illinois over LSU, South Carolina and Pitt.

What he did last year:

Alstork was the leading scorer on a 20-12 Wright State team a year ago. The Dayton native averaged 19 points per game on 40 percent shooting and 38.7 percent shooting from three. Alstork also reached the charity stripe 6.5 times per game and made nearly 85 percent of those attempts. He also recorded 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

Alstork was able to score at at all three levels of the floor last year and proved to be one of the best offensive players at the mid-major level. The Illini will be asking him to bring similar offensive production to the Big Ten this year.

How he fits in Underwood’s system:

Alstork is the most well-rounded offensive player on the Illini this year. He is a versatile and skilled offensive weapon, which means Underwood will be using him wherever and however he can.

Early practice reports have highlighted Alstork’s speed and consistency. Underwood wants good, quick shots early in the shot clock. In order to do this, he needs players who can run, players who can make threes and players who can make plays around the rim. Those may be Alstork’s three biggest strengths. I expect the Illini’s fast-break offense to improve as the year goes on.

However, early in the year, expect Alstork to have the most success in the “seven seconds or less offense”. His confidence, speed down the floor, knack for getting to the line, and jumpshooting should create high scoring totals for the fifth year guard. Alstork’s versatility allows him to play any of the four perimeter positions in Underwood’s half court spread offense.

I don’t expect him to be much of a table setter in the half court, but, instead, Alstork will be depended on to make open shots, and to cut to the basket to draw defenders and fouls. Additionally, when the offensive possession breaks down, Alstork will be counted on to create something out of nothing.

What to expect this year:

The Illini are expecting a lot out of this newcomer. The Wright State transfer came to Illinois for a chance to play a leading role at a Power 5 program and to lead them to the NCAA Tournament. Much like this whole roster, Mark Alstork has a lot he wants to prove.

Alstork is the Illini’s only scholarship senior, as well as the only proven double-digit scorer at the collegiate level. In Sports Illustrated’s Projected Top 100 Transfer Scorers, Mark Alstork came in at No. 3 at 14.7 points per game.

The Illini will be counting on at least 15 points per game from the senior guard after losing scoring guards Malcolm Hill, Tracy Abrams, and Jalen Coleman-Lands from last season. Alstork will bring a competitive edge and fire to the team and will not be afraid of the big moment.

His best defensive matchup will be the oppositions 2-guard, so I expect to see Alstork listed as the Illini’s starting shooting guard for the duration of the season. The fifth-year transfer will lead this team in scoring and will have the ball in his hands during crunch time down the stretch.