Iowa basketball picked up its first (and probably only) verbal commitment for the 2013 class, Peter Jok out of WDM Valley. What's it mean for the future of Iowa hoops?
It's been a while since we've done a CIC update -- for any sport! -- and as far as basketball is concerned, it might be our last CIC for a while. That's not because we're hanging up our creepstaches or permanently parking the unmarked white van in the garage, but rather a reflection of the fact that Iowa will have a very small basketball recruiting class in 2013. That's what happens when you only have one scholarship senior (Eric May) set to leave the program. Barring any early departures from the underclassmen, there's only spot available in this year's recruiting class -- and that spot got filled this past weekend with a verbal commitment from West Des Moines Valley's Peter Jok.
Jok's a 6-6 shooting guard/small forward prospect with a smooth jump shot, distance from long range, and tremendous athleticism. Er, maybe. With measurables and a skill set like that, you'd expect Jok to be an elite-level recruit dripping with offers and a shiny star-ranking to match. Not so -- he's a consensus 3* recruit and while ESPN cites offers from Iowa (duh), Creighton, Illinois, and Iowa State, Rivals only lists Iowa and Drake as offers. So what's the catch with Jok? Health. Jok suffered a serious knee injury during his freshman season and he's been rehabbing it ever since. His junior season (and AAU seasons before and after that) showcased a far less impressive Jok than the one that had caught the eye of coaches and recruitniks pre-knee injury (when he was considered one of the top prospects in the country), which sent his stock tumbling.
Through all the rehab and all the attempts to regain his form, one school kept after him -- Iowa. Jok rewarded their dogged efforts by giving his verbal commitment last weekend (he can sign a written commitment in November). The question now becomes -- is Jok worth all the effort? Definitely... maybe. Jok seems poised to become a glittering example of the risk/reward gambit that sums up all of recruiting (although the risks are obviously a bit more pronounced with him, given his injury history).
Jok represents a definite lottery ticket for McCaffery -- if he truly does recover to his pre-injury level (and recent evidence suggests he's getting closer to that point), then Iowa's just added essentially a 5* talent to its roster, which could be a massive boon for the program. On paper, Jok also fills one of Iowa's biggest needs -- a slashing, athletic swingman who can create his own shoot and punish opponents from long range, too. On the other hand, Jok may not pan out -- he may never recover the athleticism that made him seem to be a can't-miss prospect and his not-quite-there athleticism may get exposed in the Big Ten. Still, a more plausible worst-case scenario for Jok is that he doesn't become a star, but he becomes a useful player -- a good shooter who can contribute as part of a rotation. I also don't think it's a huge deal if Iowa doesn't end up hitting a home run with their lone recruit in this class; they signed a strong five-player class last year (plus Uthoff) and they'll have three scholarships to work with next year, giving them more flexibility to sign another strong class.
Jok's commitment is also significant because it represents another in-state victory for McCaffery. I haven't seen a list of the top in-state recruits for 2013, but Jok is likely to be near the top (there aren't any superstar prospects like Marcus Paige, Harrison Barnes, or Adam Woodbury this year). This comes on the heels of grabbing Woodbury last year and Oglesby (and, kinda sorta, Uthoff) the year before that, which is definite progress. Iowa could barely even get a cup of coffee with elite in-state talent for a while, so Fran's success at keeping more of it at home is definitely encouraging. The Iowa program will always need to supplement in-state talent with stars from beyond our borders, but it's awful hard to build a winning program if you can't win over the hearts and minds of the talent in your backyard. So far, Fran seems to be making definite headway on that front.