Can Peter Jok Lead Iowa Back to the NCAAs?

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 24th, 2016

Last season Iowa boasted the Big Ten’s highest scoring duo with two players who finished among the top eight in points per game. One of those players is returning to Iowa City; the other (along with three other starters) has exhausted his eligibility. Wing Peter Jok has played in the NCAA Tournament in each of the three years of his career, but now in his senior season, his elevated play may be the only way for the Hawkeyes to reach the Field of 68 for the fourth consecutive time. Much of this determination will also hinge upon the improvements of holdovers who will be thrust into bigger roles, but Jok’s ability to carry Iowa’s scoring load will go a long way toward determining the fate of Fran McCaffery’s seventh season in Iowa City.

Peter Jok faces a big load as the only returning starter for Iowa in 2016-17. (Alyssa Hitchcock, The Daily Iowan)

Peter Jok faces a big load as the only returning starter for Iowa in 2016-17. (Alyssa Hitchcock/The Daily Iowan)

Jok enjoyed quite the breakout season last year as he more than doubled his scoring average (7.0 to 16.1 PPG), scored 20 or more points 11 times, and did so with the sixth best offensive rating in the Big Ten among those using over 24 percent of his team’s possessions. His effective field goal percentage (53.1%) and his true shooting percentage (57.3%) were also career-highs by a wide margin. The caveat with this, however, is that a certain lanky forward wearing jersey number 20 (Jarrod Uthoff) was the clear first option, meaning that Jok was able to get much better looks than he’s likely to get this season. He’ll be the Hawkeyes’ first option this year, and the lack of an experienced point guard like Mike Gesell or Anthony Clemmons to run the offense may also hinder his efficiency numbers.

He’s still one of the best returning offensive players in the Big Ten, and that’s where the holdovers come in. Dale Jones flashed an ability to shoot from the outside (45.0%) in six games before missing the rest of last season with an injury. He contributed 16 points on 4-of-6 from distance in the only game where he played more than 20 minutes (Coppin State). Dom Uhl had seven games where he scored more than 10 points and hit 45 percent of his 60 attempts from deep. Former walk-on Nicholas Baer notched a healthy 120.8 offensive rating despite playing only 14.5 MPG, and contributed 15 points in the team’s Round of 32 NCAA Tournament loss to Villanova. If these three can seamlessly move into more prominent roles to give Iowa more than one legitimate offensive option, Jok won’t have to chuck his way to 30 points on 25 shots. The best-case scenario also involves Christian Williams or Jordan Bohannon stepping into the vacant point guard slot without a corresponding reduction in offensive productivity. It also wouldn’t hurt if highly-touted freshman Tyler Cook can come in and average double-figures to lessen Jok’s load.

Iowa’s one certainty this season is that Jok will score in bunches. He will not be able to carry the entire offensive load by himself, however, so making it back to the NCAA Tournament will likely be determined by contributions from last season’s role players and this year’s freshmen playing key minutes. Otherwise, the Hawkeyes might end up with the Big Ten’s leading scorer but no postseason berth to show for it.

Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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