Iowa shooting guard Peter Jok’s flirtation with the NBA draft process last spring has strengthened the senior’s leadership skills and improved his stamina, men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery said Thursday morning.
Jok, who averaged 16.1 points per game last year and earned second-team all-Big Ten honors, is Iowa’s only returning starter from a 22-11 squad. Jok stands 6-foot-6 and was one of 30 players invited to the Nike Basketball Academy this summer.
“I think his approach has really impressed me from the end of last season knowing we were losing four seniors, four captains,” McCaffery said at Big Ten basketball media day in Washington D.C.. “He knew it was going to be his team. It’s different because he put his name into the draft and that was a possibility. But the way that he did that and prepared for the draft but then also maintained his responsibilities as the captain of our team was something that really made me feel good as a coach and knowing that I could turn the team over to him.
“Ultimately when he came back, he’s a guy that knows and understands what this league is and he can help the young guys, who are a talented group, get ready for what we all know is an incredibly grueling task, and that’s the Big Ten schedule.”
BTN college basketball analyst Jess Settles, a former Iowa player, said Jok is “the key to Iowa’s success this year.” Jok hit 80 3-pointers last year, sixth-most in Iowa history.
“He is the best shooter in the league,” Settles said on BTN. “He has a chance to become the player of the year. He was rejected by the NBA so he has a chip on his shoulder.”
The Hawkeyes finished third in the Big Ten at 12-6 last year and advanced to the NCAA tournament’s second round.