IOWA CITY — As a freshman, Peter Jok once was the state’s best-known basketball prospect in the 2013 class, and Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery was there to recruit him.
A knee surgery after Jok’s sophomore year kept him from reaching his potential at both West Des Moines Valley and with his AAU team, and Jok fell out of the recruiting spotlight. But he was never out of McCaffery’s sight.
This weekend, Jok rewarded McCaffery’s loyalty Sunday with a commitment to play basketball for the Hawkeyes in 2013. Jok will sign his letter of intent in November.
“After the injury a lot of people backed off,” said Jok, now a senior. “Iowa was one of the people who didn’t. It was nice to have them there.
“They stayed loyal to me before my injury and after my injury. They’re like one big family. I just want to be part of something special coming up. Coach Fran has a plan, man. I want to be a part of that plan.”
Jok, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard/small forward, met with McCaffery a week ago and showed his skills during an open gym session last Monday. McCaffery offered him a scholarship after seeing Jok’s workout.
“He never wondered about my skills,” Jok said. “He was just wondering if my explosion was back or not.”
Jok, who played AAU basketball last year for the All-Iowa Attack, is the only freshman entering the 2013 class and fills the Hawkeyes’ last available scholarship. Jarrod Uthoff, a walk-on restricted transfer from Wisconsin, will earn a scholarship as a red-shirt sophomore when he’s eligible in the 2013-14 season.
Jok suffered a torn patella tendon in his left knee during his freshman year. He fought through pain for two seasons before seeing a doctor and opting for surgery.
“The doctors say I’m at 90 percent, and I’ll be 100 percent for the season,” Jok said. “But I feel great. I feel like I’m 100 percent.”
Jok had a scholarship offer from Drake, and Wisconsin wanted to visit him next month. New Kansas State Coach Bruce Weber had contacted Jok both now and when Weber coached at Illinois.
A Rivals’ three-star prospect, Jok played in 19 games last year and averaged 10.2 points. He hit 86.5 percent of his free-throw attempts, grabbed 4.3 rebounds and shot 22 3-pointers.
Jok averaged 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds game and was second team all-state as a sophomore at Des Moines Roosevelt before transferring to Valley, where he’s coached by former Iowa guard Jeff Horner. Jok said Horner never pressured him to think about Iowa.
“He never directed me to go anywhere,” Jok said. “We never really talked about college until this year when I talked to him about it. He said go somewhere where you’ll like it and not feel homesick or anything. He said he had my back wherever he wanted to go.”
Jok did want to commit before his senior season so he could concentrate on basketball. He likes want he sees out of Iowa, which finished 18-17 last year.
“They’re going to be better this year, and they’re going to be better each and every year,” Jok said. “I want to be part of that tradition that’s going to be coming back to Iowa.”