After watching so much of the top tier talent in the Hawkeye state of leave to play elsewhere prior to and early on in Fran McCaffery’s stay as head coach of the Iowa basketball team, the pendulum finally began to swing back the other way a few years ago.
Stemming from the efforts of McCaffery to put up a figurative recruiting fence around the state has been the arrival in Iowa City of some of the most highly sought after prospects ready to play out their college careers.
One of those players was 2012-13 Iowa Mr. Basketball Peter Jok.
The 6-6 wing arrived on campus a year ago as the lone member of Iowa’s recruiting class, and was expected for the most part to provide a scoring punch as the fourth or fifth man off the bench for the Hawkeyes. To say he fulfilled that role would be an understatement to say the least.
When Jok got into games and got the ball shots tended to go up in a hurry. In fact, his average of one field goal attempt for every 2.68 minutes he was on the floor ranked second on the entire team behind only leading scorer Devyn Marble.
This isn’t at all me criticizing Jok’s play because it’s exactly what the coaching staff was asking him to do at a young stage of his career. He also did a relatively solid job taking care of the basketball for a freshman, coughing up the ball only 13 times all year, as well as maintaining a positive assist to turnover ratio.
Much like Anthony Clemmons, after a non-conference schedule in which he received fairly consistent playing time, Jok saw his minutes reduced with the return of Josh Oglesby to the rotation from injury. How that ultimately affected his progression is anyone’s guess, but there’s no doubt that the rest of his freshman year was changed for good.
With that being said, his first season as a Hawkeye should be considered a success. Despite his trigger-happy tendencies, Jok managed to stay within the confines of the offense fairly well for a player his age, and gave coach McCaffery seven double-digit scoring efforts on the season, including in Iowa’s first round NCAA Tournament exit against Tennessee.
Based on the ability he showed and the areas for improvement that he can now address, the future is bright for the sophomore-to-be.
Looking ahead to 2014-15 the biggest area of growth that Jok needs to undergo is on defense. Like many players who come into college having been predominantly scorers all of their lives, the consistency and communication necessary to guard at the Division I level were lacking. Whether it was gambling for steals or a missed rotation to help out a teammate, the usual freshman struggles on the defensive end were well-versed in Jok.
In order for him to see a sizable role increase next season defense has to be the primary focus throughout this summer and into the preseason. Jok has the kind of natural scoring ability that will only be enhanced as his body and understanding of the game matures, so being able to be relied upon by both his coaches and teammates on the defensive end is vital.
Based on pure speculation and gut feeling I don’t see Jok making a giant leap minutes-wise in 2014-15. I think anywhere from 14-18 minutes a night would be a reasonable expectation, but at a significantly greater and more efficient rate than a year ago.
I see anywhere from 7-9ppg definitely being within the realm of possibility, along with continued proficiency from beyond the arc and at the foul line (40%+ and 80%+ shooting respectively).
If Jok can do all of this and firmly entrench himself as a vital cog within Iowa’s rotation, 2014-15 should be a very successful season for both him and the Hawkeyes.