As a freshman at Thurgood Marshall, Mark Alstork was a 6-foot, 160-pound guard who tended to shoot the ball whenever he touched it. Playing Division I college ball wasn’t a goal for Alstork, who viewed the game as a hobby.
“I wasn’t the best player. I was the weakest player, matter of fact. I just played because I liked basketball,” Alstork said.
But after averaging 13.3 points per game as a sophomore, he began to realize there might be more than fun in it for him. So he hit the weight room, adding muscle to his body and nearly 100 pounds to his bench press. He took his coach’s frequent lectures to heart, becoming a more well-rounded player. And by the time he’d grown to 6-4 as a junior, college coaches were beginning to sniff around.
Alstork’s progression paid off Friday night, when he accepted a scholarship offer from Drake University while visiting the school in Des Moines, Iowa. He’d recently received offers from several other schools along with interest from major-conference programs like Oregon and Maryland, but in the end it came down to comfort.
“They just treated me like family and laid out a blueprint for me for the next few years and hopefully to get to the next level. I was recruited the right way. I could tell they’re good people. Everybody on campus treated me like they knew me, even though they didn’t,” said Alstork, who’s averaging 21.4 points per game for top-ranked Thurgood.
“I knew it was the place for me.”
Drake, which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference, began recruiting Alstork six weeks ago and never relented, showing up for almost every Thurgood game. He’s fully qualified academically, which, along with his scoring ability, made him attractive.
“The staff did a tremendous job pursuing Mark. They were not going to be denied,” Cougars coach Darnell Hoskins said. “I think I talked to them more than you would a high school girlfriend.”
Drake’s coaches told Alstork that if he works hard, he’s got a good chance of starting right away and averaging double-digit points as a freshman. He’s hoping not only for individual success, but also to serve as an inspiration for other local players.
“If it weren’t for other people, I wouldn’t be where I am, so I want to give back,” Alstork said. “Hopefully everyone around my high school and the community can follow my lead.”