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CHICAGO — Until late last week, former Iowa shooting guard Peter Jok was an alternate for the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
He sat in prospect purgatory for weeks while training in Phoenix, preparing to show NBA scouts what he could bring to a roster after scoring 1,508 points and shooting 41.3 percent in four seasons as a Hawkeye.
Jok has his shot now.
He’ll take part in the Combine this week, with full-court drills set for Thursday and Friday. What’s left now is making shots the way he did so often in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“The one thing he does and the thing the league needs is people who can make long shots,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told The Gazette on Tuesday. “Whether he’s an alternate or not, the fact that he’s getting a chance to prove himself after his stellar career at Iowa — mostly ups, but some downs — I think it’s great for him.
“Given where the league is, the fact that he can really make deep shots, he’s going to get a look.”
Jok’s draft status headed into the Combine is murky at best.
As of Wednesday, none of the various mock drafts have him being selected, but Fraschilla pointed out that when the draft enters that mid-40s range in terms of where the teams pick, it becomes very hard to predict what teams will do.
Former Hawkeye Jarrod Uthoff fits that example. Uthoff was widely considered a high second-round pick, but went undrafted instead, and found his way to the Dallas Mavericks at the end of last season after taking the undrafted free agent route. At that point of the draft, teams went for specialized needs.
Fraschilla said he has Jok as “10 or 11 or even a little lower than that in terms of shooting guards,” on his Big Board. While that doesn’t bode well for his being selected on paper, those specialized needs are what Fraschilla said take precedence.
“In all honesty what happens is if you have the 45th or 53rd or 57th pick and you’re desperate for someone who can shoot the ball and you’re looking at a couple guys and Peter Jok is there,” Fraschilla said. “These guys have seen him enough to know he can really shoot it. ... It’s how effortlessly he can get a shot off with a defender closing out. How can he handle the ball just to escape a little bit from the defense?”
The biggest question mark Fraschilla offered about Jok is one that’s followed him for a couple years: his defense needs to improve.
Jok’s steal numbers improved throughout his career at Iowa, from 0.3 his freshman year to 1.1 his senior year, but obviously that’s not the only factor in what makes a player good defensively. Fraschilla said Jok does not need to show at the Combine he’s all of a sudden become a lockdown defender. Staying in front of his man and being competent is the task at hand now because his shooting is the more important aspect to his game.
The other component to this week will be Jok’s physical measurables, Fraschilla said. Jok is not a “physical guy,” and how his body type holds up compared to the others at the Combine could be of sizable influence.
Fraschilla has Jok “anywhere from 45(th pick) to undrafted, in my opinion.”
“He’s a one-dimensional player,” Fraschilla said. “I say one-dimensional, but if he has a chance to make the NBA in the coming year or down the road, it’ll be because of his outside shooting. In a league with 450 players and only 30 of them stars, everybody else plays a role. His role is to make open shots and not be a liability defensively. That’s what he needs to prove.”
MORRIS ON DISPLAY AT COMBINE, TOO
Jok’s good friend and cross-state collegiate rival Monte Morris will be in Chicago this week, too.
The Iowa State point guard has rightly been lauded for his record-setting ability to take care of the basketball, and his pro prospects are reflected in that. While he’s not projected by many — if any — to be a first-round pick, Morris is anywhere from the 35th to 59th pick in various mock drafts.
ESPN reporter Jeff Goodman joined Fraschilla on a conference call with media Tuesday to discuss the Combine, and both said Morris’ character has as much to do with teams taking a shot at him as his talent. In other words: teams know what they’re going to get from a guy who’s won more games as a Cyclone than anyone.
“I think he’s a guy who can stick in the league for a long time as a backup or third point guard,” Goodman said. “NBA guys want people like him too; someone you don’t have to worry about who’s going to bring it every day, who’s not going to be an issue, who’s going to come off the bench and just be a solid player for you.”
Could Morris rejoin his old coach?
Goodman shot down the idea on the conference call that former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg would be reunited with Morris via the draft, but only because the Chicago Bulls have four point guards already on their roster.
Regardless, Fraschilla pointed out whether they are reunited at some point or not, it’s Hoiberg’s influence that has had the biggest impact on Morris’ draftability.
“I would say the thing where Fred really has helped Monte out is he’ll walk into an NBA summer league or training camp and he already understands spacing, pick-and-roll basketball,” Fraschilla said. “He reads coverages well because of Fred’s NBA influence. That’s going to help.”
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