By Tommy Birch
Through thick and thin, there was one school that always seemed to be after Peter Jok — Iowa.
The Hawkeyes’ persistence and loyalty paid off this weekend.
Jok, a senior at West Des Moines Valley and one of the most sought-after recruits in the state, verbally committed to the Hawkeyes basketball program on Saturday.
“They’ve always been there,” Jok said Sunday.
That hasn’t always been the case for other schools pursuing Jok, a 6-foot-6, 200 pound guard born in Sudan.
Jok, one of the most heavily-recruited players in the state, had generated interest from schools across the country, including Kentucky, Michigan State, and Notre Dame, before a injury sidetracked his playing time.
A torn Patellar Tendon in Jok’s left knee caused him to miss parts of his junior season while he recovered from off-season surgery.
Jok, who averaged 10.2 points per game last season, watched as many of the schools that had once shown interest in him started to back away.
“It was a lot,” he said. “I can’t really count them.”
One of the schools that didn’t back away was Iowa. Jok repaid the team’s loyalty by committing to Fran McCaffery’s program while on a visit to Iowa City on Saturday.
“It just showed me that they’ll always have my back no matter what and that they’re always going to be there for me,” Jok said.
Valley coach Jeff Horner, a former Hawkeyes star, said the injury was a source of concern for many coaches who inquired about his hoops prospect.
“He just kept fighting through it,” Horner said of the injury.
Jok said he expects to be 100 percent for the upcoming season.
“It feels great now,” Jok said of the knee.
Van Coleman, national director for XOFan.com and Hot100Hoops.com, said that if Jok gets back to 100 percent, he has the talent to play his way into being an NBA first-round draft pick after he leaves Iowa.
“It could potentially be a very big pickup,” Coleman said.
Jok, whose older brother, Dau, plays basketball at Pennsylvania, was born in Sudan. His father died during a Sudan civil war when Peter was 3.
His guardian is Mike Nixon, the father of Valley basketball player Peter Nixon.
Both Nixon and Jok transferred from Des Moines Roosevelt to Valley following their sophomore seasons.
Jok averaged 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds as a sophomore at Roosevelt.
Horner said with Jok now healthy, he expects him to return to form.
“I have high expectations for him,” Horner said.
Jok said he also considered Wisconsin, Kansas State, Nebraska, and Drake.
“I think they’re (Iowa) getting better every year,” Jok said. “They’re going to be something special. I just want to be part of it.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball