Can’t stop Jok

BY WILL MCDAVID | JULY 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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To fans familiar with Peter Jok, one thing is abundantly clear — the man can shoot. In last season’s devastating season-ending loss to Tennessee, Jok was the Hawkeyes’ lone perimeter threat, shooting 67 percent from the 3-point range and 80 percent from the field.

After four games of Prime Time basketball, Jok’s long-range marksmanship has proven to be even better than advertised, making him perhaps Prime Time’s most prolific distance shooter.

“When he’s on, he has just a picture perfect jump shot,” Prime Time coach Ray Swetalla [standing in for Kevin Lehman] said of Jok. “That’s what he’s capable of doing.”

Since his time at West Des Moines Valley High, the name Peter Jok has been synonymous with shooting. However, in the first half of his July 10 matchup with Ron Nove’s team, the Iowa wing gave a packed gymnasium a glimpse of another dimension of his game.

“I’m more excited about what he did to start to the game, which was defending and rebounding,” Swetalla said. “We were so small it really challenged him to get on the glass early for us, and he did that.”

With a double-digit lead at the half, Lehman’s players used the intermission to grab a drink or catch their breath with the exception of Jok. While most of the team waited for the second-half buzzer to sound, the deadeye shooter launched 3 after 3, clearly anxious to extend his squad’s advantage.

Though this break in play ended minutes later, Jok’s shooting exhibition had just begun. Five opposing players took the court when play resumed, but after a few minutes, it was clear that Jok still had it all to himself. By the 15-minute mark of the second half, the Iowa sophomore had nailed five-consecutive 3s, each punctuated by the excited cheers of the crowd.

For many on hand, the sweet shooting sophomore’s scoring was awe-inspiring. For Iowa teammate Okey Ukah, courtside for Jok’s performance, it was business as usual.“It’s not surprising,” Ukah said. “I mean, he does it every day. He’s a great shooter. He’s been putting in a lot of work in the summer.”

Jok has long possessed the size and shooting ability for his position, a combination that made him the state’s top recruit entering college. However, in the grind of the Big Ten, his lack of physical strength limited his ability to be a consistent contributor.

“When you come in as a freshman, you don’t realize how strong you have to be until you have to play against those Big Ten players,” Swetalla said. “Usually between that freshman and sophomore year, I’ve seen how much that added strength and good weight adds to their game.”

After months spent developing his 6-6 frame, he finally looks the part. No longer the skinny kid who could be pushed around in conference play, Jok finally has the physique to complement his considerable skill.

“I feel like I improved by just being in the weight room a lot, working my body,” he said. “Having my lower body be stronger now helps me jump higher, so it makes it easier for me to shoot.”

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