Matthew O'Haren, USA TODAY

Illinois Fighting Illini Decision Primer: Grad transfer Mark Alstork

Grad transfer guard Mark Alstork will announce his decision on Wednesday between Illinois and three other finalists.

Wright State scoring guard Mark Alstork will make his decision on his grad transfer destination on Wednesday.

Illinois is one of four finalists, along with LSU, South Carolina and Pittsburgh. The Illini hosted Alstork for an official visit beginning on May 11.

The 6-foot-5 wing will bring a ton of scoring potential wherever he goes after averaging 19 points per game as a redshirt junior, while shooting 40 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from long range.

Going Illinois' way

The Illini made a big-time impression on Alstork's visit to Champaign. He likes the love and attention, and Illinois' coaches, players and fans definitely moved the needle there. But more importantly, Brad Underwood and his staff laid out a very detailed plan for how Alstork could achieve his goals next season.

Alstork is very understanding of Underwood's ability to put players in the best position to succeed. He is attracted to a coach who has a great offensive mind, and that is proven in what Underwood was able to accomplish in just one season at Oklahoma State.

Ultimately, Alstork wants a place where he can be showcased on a big stage, develop his skills and be ready for the NBA. Illinois rolled out a plan for him from the time he'd arrive on campus until he'd be drafted next summer.

And there's no question that Alstork would find the minutes and shots in Champaign. The Illini need to replace more than 57 percent of their scoring output from last season.

At the end of the day, Illinois was a very viable option for Alstork. It was one that made a lot of sense, and he definitely felt strongly about the program and the opportunity.

Going against Illinois

As much as Illinois made sense, LSU also had their own strong sell. The Tigers got the last official visit on the slate right before an unofficial visit stop at Louisville.

LSU is another place that has plenty of opportunity in the backcourt following Antonio Blakeney's decision to go pro after putting up 17.2 points per game as a sophomore last season. With the Tigers' surrounding pieces, you could argue there's even more freedom to be had in Baton Rouge.

Alstork was also very impressed with their visit. New head coach Will Wade is a good recruiter. And LSU has some fantastic facilities.

Most have handicapped this one as a two-horse race, but Alstork loved South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. The Gamecocks will have plenty of eyes on them after their Final Four run last season. One issue there is they have been oversigned on scholarships.

On Tuesday, it was announced that redshirt-sophomore guard TeMarcus Blanton will not return to the team due to hip problems. That leaves South Carolina even at 13 scholarships after signing 2017 wing Justin Minaya earlier this month.

It wouldn't be out of the question that they could open another spot for Alstork, but that's not something that is widely anticipated on the outside.

Illini confidence meter

(On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest) 6 -- Alstork's decision to push back his announcement late last week was a potential benefit for the Illini. Based on the original timeline, it appeared that LSU was in line to be the choice. But it gave Illinois more time to work the situation. Alstork was certainly conflicted with this choice. He consulted heavily with his family, and that has played a factor. On Tuesday, Illinois felt they still had a shot but confidence wasn't oozing from that side. But the Illini have made a late push to the finish line and it seems like this one has swung in a positive direction.

Commitment impact

Illinois needs players. More importantly, they need a legit scorer on the wing who can create his own shot. That is what Alstork could provide. He would fit very well in the uptempo system that likes to spread the floor with weapons. Think about what Underwood was able to do with Jeffrey Carroll at Oklahoma State. He went from eight points per game and a 33.3 percent three-point shooter to 17.2 points per game and a 44.4-percent mark from long range in one year. Now, he's an NBA prospect -- which is exactly where Alstork wants to be. The Illini need a big more than anything, but a bona fide scorer would be a very nice addition as well.


Illini Inquirer Top Stories