Mark Alstork is more than a basketball player.
He may be a graduate transfer who can lead his new team to the NCAA Tournament, but he is also a symbol for Dayton, Ohio.
“I play with passion. I play with a chip,” said Alstork, a Dayton native and former star at Wright State, on Watching with Wesner. “You can tell when someone is from where I’m from, how they play and the passion they play with.”
Alstork is one of the most talented scorers left on the transfer market; he averaged 19 points per game and scored 27 plus points on 7 separate occasions last season.
Last week he narrowed his list to four teams, leaving Illinois, LSU, Pittsburgh and South Carolina as potential suitors.
Throughout the month, Alstork has been frequently posting on social media, chronicling his experiences and campus visits. The 6’5” scoring guard has an altruistic reason for his persistent Snapchat videos and tweets.
“I wanted to take my people from Dayton, Ohio, who have supported me from day one. I wanted them to be with me in the process,” he said. “They have been with me for this long. I don’t want them to feel like that I am going to change up on them or that I am not going to continue to be the same person I am. I’m never going to change who I am.”
Alstork did not want to transfer from Wright State. After all, as a hometown product playing at a local university, the benefits were abundant. However, being a part of the Raiders became toxic.
“During the season, I went through a time with myself that a lot of people don’t get out of. I was frustrated with some of the things — Some of the things at Wright State wasn’t normal,” Alstork recalled. “I actually didn’t want to leave, to be honest. I wanted to stick it out and try to become an NBA player from Wright State.
“It’s not easy leaving your family and friends,” said Alstork. “They can be looking forward to watching me play two times a weekend. It’s a place to come and be happy and smile and enjoy life.”
Two values of importance to Alstork is faith and family. As the son of a preacher, a relationship with God was forged early on — one that has not weakened with age.
“Faith and prayer is a huge part of me being who I am and continuing to be in God and continuing to grow a relationship in God,” he said. “I know God leads my life.”
For many student-athletes, athletics and academics dominate. Add being a transfer with a plethora of top-tier options and a disconnection from core values can occur.
This was not the case with Alstork.
“I know exactly the reason why I am on this earth,” said the 2016-17 Horizon League first teamer. “It has nothing to do with me and it has all to do with God.”
Six visits and fourteen flights later and the memories of a lifetime have been given to Alstork and his family.
“The most memorable moment for me was being able to have my mother and brother there the whole time,” said Alstork. “I’m just glad, I’m able, that God has allowed me to be in this position in my life. I never would have thought that this would happen again. The opportunity that I am having is straight from God.”
Three years after receiving a release from Ball State, Mark Alstork will call one final school home. Another decision must be made; but, with it, perspective and advice will be given to aspiring basketball players in Dayton.
“I’ve had some people hitting me up,” said the Thurgood Marshall High School product. “Older kids who say, ‘You motivate me. You aspire me. Your work ethic speaks for itself. And no matter who gets you, you’re not going to change.’”
Alstork confirmed he will tweet to the college basketball world his decision tomorrow, exclusively on Twitter.
With his decision, one major domino for next season will fall and one team will be closer to a trip to the Big Dance.
– P. Wesner