CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Through seven games, the race for the Big Ten title is heating up.
At the top, you have the Purdue Boilermakers and the Ohio State Buckeyes, both of whom are 7-0 thus far. The Boilermakers received a first-place vote in the latest AP Top 25 rankings, while the Buckeyes are knocking on the door of the top 10.
In between the two, you have the sixth-ranked Michigan State Spartans, who are 5-2 in conference play and are looking to pick up their second straight win on Monday night when they face the Illinois Fighting Illini on the road. After a tough stretch of three games, the Spartans bounced back last time out for a big win to keep pace in the Big Ten race.
As for Illinois, they are trending in the opposite direction. They have lost five straight games overall, and are dead last in the conference at 0-7. Illinois is the only team in the Big Ten without a conference win, and they would like to change that on Monday night.
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. “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 seven separate occasions last season.
Last week he narrowed his list to four teams, including 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 six-foot, five-inch scoring guard has an altruistic reason for his tweets and Snapchat videos.
“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 explained. “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. 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,” he continued. “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 multitude of power conference options and a disconnection from core values can occur.
This is not the case with Alstork.
“I know exactly the reason why I am on this earth,” said the 2016-17 Horizon League first team selection. “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 supplied 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 alumnus. “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 NCAA Tournament
CALGARY, Alta. — You get a graduate transfer, and you get a graduate transfer.
Over the past three days, several of the top graduate transfers announced their decisions for the 2017-18 season, causing a big shake-up in terms of the overall rankings. In the process, they all boosted the chances of their respective teams for next season in their own conference races.
Four of the biggest names on the grad transfer market are off the board, so now where do teams look for some immediate production come the 2017-18 season?
Another big name hit the market this weekend, and he averaged over 15 points per game a year ago for the UTSA Roadrunners. Add him to the mix, and there’s still plenty of talent out there, all of whom are eager to find the right fit and help a team play deep into March.
CALGARY, Alta. — In college basketball, graduate transfers are highly coveted in the off-season.
For power conference teams who feel they are a piece or two away from competing for a conference title, and possibly the national crown, a graduate transfer could plug a few holes that may get them over the hump. On the flip side, smaller programs could turn to graduate transfers to simply fill out their roster for the ensuing year.
This off-season, the graduate transfer market has been filled with some spectacular names. Several of the bigger names have already found their final schools to close out their collegiate careers.
Egor Koulechov has committed to the Florida Gators. Justin Bibbins to the Utah Utes, Stephan Jiggetts to the South Florida Bulls, and Kerem Kanter to the Xavier Musketeers, among a slew of others.
With that said, there are plenty of talented prospects still looking for their new home, all of whom will have a big impact next season with their respective schools.
CALGARY, Alta. — With each passing day, the list of players transferring continues to grow.
The list of transfer players is on the cusp of the 500-mark, and will only increase as the off-season moves along. While players are still making their decisions on whether or not to transfer, several big names have already committed to their future homes.
Marcus Evans and Egor Koulechov, the highly-touted guard duo from the Rice Owls, have both found their respective homes for the remainder of their collegiate careers. Evans followed Coach Rhoades and committed to the VCU Rams, while Koulechov committed to the Florida Gators for next season.
Also, Kerem Kanter committed to play for the Xavier Musketeers next season, is he opts to remove his name from the 2017 NBA Draft and return to school as a graduate transfer.
With that being said, there’s still a ton of talent on the market right now. The talent pool will likely continue to improve as the off-season moves along and new players look for their next home.