Welcome one and all to the definitive tribute to the prowess of Peter Jok in an Iowa uniform. It fittingly comes to you on the very last day Jok will don that jersey, as he competes in the 3-point contest tonight at the Final Four in Phoenix (9:00 CT on ESPN). Oh yeah, and it’s his birthday—hooray for timeliness!
With the benefit of hindsight, Jok’s ascent may seem like it was inevitable, but his trek into the annals of Hawkeye history has been anything but straightforward.
Consider his high school career in Des Moines: once regarded as a top-10 recruit in his class as a freshman by Scout, Jok experienced a major setback when he suffered a knee injury at a Nike Top 100 camp in St. Louis.
The concerns regarding Jok’s knee clearly hampered his college recruitment and led to doubts, even among some Iowa fans, about his “ceiling” as a player. Now, with accolades such as First Team All-Big Ten and honorable mention AP All-American to his name, that hand-wringing looks like pure folly. But some of those concerns were entirely valid at the time.
Jok arrived in Iowa City as a skinny 3-star recruit, known for his penchant for shooting the ball but not much else. The lone signee in his class, he joined an Iowa team that was a year removed from a trip to the NIT Championship game and gaining some legitimate national attention. It was a buzz-y time for hoops in Iowa City.
Jok’s freshman campaign was fairly unremarkable. Although he saw time in almost every game and began to establish his reputation as a shooter, there wasn’t much reason to expect that, in a few short years, the Iowa record books would be speckled with his name.
That trend largely held during his sophomore season, when Jok’s usage increased significantly, but his efficiency took a proportionate hit (7 ppg, 36% from the field). Again, fans were left under a cloud of uncertainty of what to expect from Peter Jok as an upperclassman.
Not long into the following season that uncertainty was largely replaced with excitement.
Jok would prove to be the perfect complement to Jarrod Uthoff’s offensive abilities and capitalized accordingly: averaging 16 points and shooting 40% from beyond the arc. In addition, Jok established his tendency to, uhh … go off—scoring 25 points or more in 10 games as a junior.
Honestly, his performance that year would’ve been more than enough to carve out a spot in the positive memory banks of most fans—which makes his final season as a Hawkeye the icing on the cake.
As the lone senior (that played regularly) on a squad dominated by underclassmen (10 freshmen and sophomores … damn), Jok’s role expanded to include leader, mentor. By all accounts, he embraced the extra responsibility and excelled at it.
Truly, the influence that Jok had on this group of young players will be fully realized and respected in the coming years—this was his team. He successfully bridged the gap between the old guard that sparked the resurgence under McCaffery, and the new one that aims to take Iowa to even greater heights. That’s no small thing.
And that’s not even mentioning any of the statistical excellence that will define Jok’s senior season, of which there is obviously plenty; his influence on the future of this team goes far beyond stats and figures.
Jok’s production this season saw another significant uptick and didn’t compromise his efficiency as much as you would expect from the obvious focal point of Iowa’s offense. Leading the conference with 19.9 points per game, Jok played his way into some well-deserved national attention culminating in making the AP honorable mention All-America team.
I would also argue that his newfound emphasis on rebounding has been undersold. In fact, Jok finished 9th in defensive rebounding in the conference and nearly doubled his numbers from last season by averaging 5.5 boards on the year. That uptick says a lot.
So there you have it: one hell of a career is in the books. It’s one that was surprisingly outstanding in all of the best ways, especially when you consider all of the speed bumps in Jok’s path along the way (and I didn’t even bring up the difficulties he faced in his family life due to the tumult in Sudan).
Peter Jok is a Hawkeye worth remembering.
I leave you with this: tune-in to tonight’s 3-point competition. It’ll be your last chance to catch a glimpse of one of the best shooters to ever grace the floor of Carver—you’d be crazy to pass up a chance to watch that shooting stroke one more time in an Iowa uniform.
Happy birthday Mr. Jok, and godspeed.