It's officially Peter Jok's team, and it's about time to see what he can do with it.
Bio: Senior, 6'6", 205 lbs. (West Des Moines, Iowa)
Last Season: 27.7 MPG, 16.1 PPG, 40.2% 3-pt FG%
What We Saw Last Season
The 2016 season was a breakout one for Jok. After a few years of inconsistent play, we finally saw his immense talent break through. His junior season was one in which he set career bests in a number of categories: shooting and scoring efficiency, turnovers, and even on defense in the steals department.
Jok's career high offensive efficiency was remarkable, considering he was being asked to play a much bigger role on the team than he has had to in past years. With the graduation of Aaron White, Jok was the designated number two in the offense, and his workload numbers showed it.
|Minutes Per Game||Possessions Used||Shots Taken|
Jok has always been a high-volume player over his career, but he hasn't always been efficient and he had never played extremely heavy minutes over his first two seasons. Last year he put it all together and the results were something like this:
Jok's immense growth unleashed that latent talent, allowing him to develop into one of the best offensive players in the conference. He could score off of screens, he showed a little pick-and-roll ability, his ball-handling and ability to finish at the rim improved against lower-level Big Ten competition. But most importantly, his ability to consistently knock down threes in transition made this one of Iowa's fastest and most dangerous offensive teams of the Fran McCaffery era.
The confluence of all those variables allowed him to finish the season on the Second Team All-Big Ten roster, and left us with sky high expectations for this season.
What We Need to See This Season
Well, we need to see more improvement. The expectations for this season are sky high for Jok, who is going to be the unquestioned veteran leader on a roster that consists mainly of sophomores and freshman. Not only was he voted preseason First Team All-Big Ten, but he was projected by Sports Illustrated's player projection model to be the second leading scorer in the nation, at 21 points per game. To put that into perspective a bit, only Andre Woolridge and Adam Haluska (both also in their senior years) have averaged over 20 points per game for Iowa in the last 20 years. That's not an easy task, but it is possible when you think about the construction of this roster and the type of player that Jok is.
I have long thought that this season is a bit reminiscent of Adam Haluska's senior campaign. The 2007 team lost a lot of senior talent when Greg Brunner, Jeff Horner, and defensive stalwart, Erek Hansen, graduated. Haluska, like Jok, was left as the unquestioned offensive leader on a team with a lot of unproven players. (Though, admittedly not as young as this year's team.) Another interesting parallel between these seasons, is that 2007 had an incoming freshman named Tyler, who was slated to make an instant impact.
As a result, Haluska saw his workload increase massively, to the point where he was ranked, according to Kenpom, 98th nationally in possessions used and 36th in the amount of shots he took. Fortunately, he was able to remain extremely efficient in the face of that increase in offensive responsibility. That is also what we need from Jok this season, and he more than has the tools to deliver.
He has always been a high-volume player on offense, so getting him to increase the amount of shots he takes shouldn't be an issue at all. Additionally, the fact that he's attempted around 50% of his shots from long range over his career makes it easier for him to score more points on fewer shots, especially if he's hitting at a 40% clip again this season.
The Hawkeyes need Jok to replicate his performance from last season in the face of another increased workload. Further development on the defensive side of the ball would also be a positive. If those things happen, the Hawkeyes may actually be an NCAA Tournament team if they can find some offense (and defense, of course) behind him. If not, this could truly be 2007 all over again, where the Hawkeyes fail to go dancing.
Best Case Scenario
Jok's talent takes the final big step, as he becomes one of the best pure scorers in all of college basketball, and a fine defender to round out his game. With Iowa sorely lacking in experienced offensive players, Pete is Iowa's best option on offense every time down the court. His minutes per game increase to right around 35 per game in conference play, as Iowa can't afford to not have his scoring prowess on the court for long periods of time. Despite the increased minutes, his game doesn't suffer from exhaustion or tired legs. He puts up 16 field goal attempts per night, 10 of which are threes, and his eFG% is still in the high 50s if not low 60s. Essentially, he has a Buddy Hield type of senior season, where he scores 25 points per game, challenges for the John R. Wooden Player of the Year Award, and leads the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament yet again.
Most Likely Scenario
As good as I think Pete is, I do think that scenario above is going to be difficult to make real. The big difference between Jok and Hield is that the latter had a bunch of upperclassmen surrounding him last season. Jok doesn't have that this year. Aside from Jok, Dom Uhl is the only guy with multiple years of real experience. Brady Ellingson could count, but his freshman season didn't even cross the threshold that disqualifies him from obtaining a redshirt, so I wouldn't really call that multiple years of experience.
With the way the roster is constructed, I just keep coming back to this being more of a senior year Adam Haluska situation.
Jok should see his minutes per game go up to the mid-thirties once conference play starts. His points per game will probably average around 20, and his efficiency should remain fairly high, given that he has such a variety of ways of getting his shot off. He should be Fran's fourth straight representative on the First Team All-Big Ten roster, but will likely be overlooked for the Big Ten Player of the Year Award because Iowa is a bubble team that falls just short of the Tournament.
Rise and fire, Pete. We need you to go bonkers this year in order to be MAD again.