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Peter Jok gets jump-start on jelling with Hawkeyes

[ 0 ] July 7, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – He’s the new kid in school. The kid everyone looks at with a curious eye and wonders what makes him tick. He is Peter Jok, the only new face on Iowa’s 2013-14 basketball roster.

The transition, so far, has been seamless.

“Peter has just slid in there with us,” senior Zach McCabe said.

Jok, a 6-foot-6 guard and Iowa’s Mr. Basketball as a senior at West Des Moines Valley, feels like a veteran.

“They’ve welcomed me,” Jok said. “They treat me like I played with them last year.”

He watched from afar last season, when the Hawkeyes won 25 games and reached the NIT final.

“I was trying to picture what I could do this year to help them as a team,” Jok said

Shooting, the Hawkeyes’ most troubling statistic last season, is what Jok does best. He shot 42 percent from 3, and 92.6 percent from the free-throw line, while averaging 23.6 points for the Tigers last season. Iowa shot just 30.5 percent from the 3-point line last season, and 28.4 percent in Big Ten games.

“You can tell right away he’s a great shooter, and he has a lot of confidence in himself,” McCabe said. “That’s what we need. Him coming in, and doing his thing.”

Eric May is the only player gone from coach Fran McCaffery’s 10-man rotation last season. Jok and redshirt forwards Jarrod Uthoff and Kyle Meyer, who were both with the program in 2012-13, will be competing for playing time in that congested rotation. Jok thinks two things will get him in the mix.

“My defense, and making shots,” said Jok, who is leading the Prime Time League in scoring at 29.4 points a game.

Peter Jok, right, knows he needs to improve his defense to have NCAA success. He’s spent much of his summer working with Iowa coaches on his skills. (Charlie Litchfield/The Register)

Peter Jok, right, knows he needs to improve his defense to have NCAA success. He’s spent much of his summer working with Iowa coaches on his skills. (Charlie Litchfield/The Register)

Peter’s shot is ahead of Peter’s defense. During the allotted hours the NCAA allows players to work with coaches, a good share of Jok’s time is spent on defense under the watchful eye of assistant Kirk Speraw, who was his chief recruiter.

“He wants me to keep working on my defense,” Jok said. “He said with my size, I can be a really good defender. So that’s what I’ve been working on.”

That includes a drill where Jok guards a ball-handler who zigs and zags his way from one end of the court to the other.

Working on ball-handling has been another area of emphasis. That skill will give Jok the ability to get by a defender who chases him to the 3-point line.

Jok is acquiring another skill — studying in the summer. He’s taking two classes to get an academic jump-start to his freshman season. And he’s listening on the court.

“When I’m in the gym, they push me and tell me what to do,” Jok said. “And when I mess up, they just tell me to keep pushing myself.”

Jok will get a head start to his freshman season next month when he joins the Hawkeyes for their six-game exhibition tour of England and France. The NCAA allows 10 practices in preparation for the trip.

“It’s going to show me how college practices are,” Jok said. “I’ll see where I stand.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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