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IOWA CITY — Peter Jok doesn’t yet know what his legacy will be.
The Hawkeyes senior saw his career end on Sunday night with 22 points, five assists and four rebounds in a 94-92 overtime loss to TCU in the second round of the NIT.
Not really an emotional guy, there were no tears after the game. He walked off the court with a small smile — arms raised in appreciation for a sellout Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd that urged him and his teammates on despite some old habits coming back that resulted in the loss.
He knows he doesn’t just want to be remembered as a shooter. Beyond that, it’s up to everyone else. Regardless, he’ll be remembered.
“It’s been a long journey for me, the last four years. The main thing I really think I did the most was mature from my freshman year to where I am now. I’m two different people,” Jok said. “(The program) took a big chance on me, not knowing what was going to happen with my knee surgery. I just want to thank them for that. Hopefully what I did the last four years rewarded them for that. I’m really thankful.”
What Iowa was rewarded with in Jok was 1,508 career points — 648 of which came on 216 3-pointers — in 125 games in an Iowa uniform.
He was the Big Ten scoring champion as a senior, and made it four straight seasons with the Hawkeyes landing a player on the All-Big Ten First Team. He dealt with double- and triple-teams all season. He was forced into a leadership role he said made him that different person he is today.
“I think this year (is the most memorable) because we had a lot of young guys and I was the only senior that played a lot,” Jok said. “They really challenged my leadership and I think I grew and was more mature in my leadership.”
What Iowa was rewarded with in Jok, Coach Fran McCaffery said, was a young man who “stuck with himself,” as much as the coaching staff stuck with him. They were rewarded, McCaffery said, with a young man who helped as much as any coach in recruiting.
Some players lead by example, others with their words. Jok had to work hard at being a vocal leader, but never, McCaffery said, with his example. Freshman teammate Jordan Bohannon said as much, too, adding after the game that what he’ll miss most about Jok is, “how hard he worked every day.”
That kind of thing is infectious.
“I’m really proud of him, and again, when you get to know somebody like you do in recruiting, his character is tremendous, and I said to him, I said, a lot of the players in this room are here because you hosted them on their visit. They all wanted to play with Pete. They all respected Pete,” McCaffery said. “Leadership manifests itself in a lot of different ways. It’s in practice, it’s in the locker room, it’s on the road, it’s in tight games, but it’s in the offseason, and it’s in recruiting. What do we do off the floor? What do we do to stay connected as a group in the offseason? And he’s always been a guy that’s in the gym all the time, so they just follow his lead, and our guys are in the gym all the time.”
What Iowa was rewarded with in Jok, his teammates said, was a guy who was “like an older brother,” to the many young players on the roster.
With so much youth and so much for them to learn, Jok was never the guy who got impatient or distanced himself from anyone. It was just the opposite, according to Bohannon and freshman forward Cordell Pemsl. Bohannon said Jok snuffed out any “little awkward situations right from the start,” and helped foster the bond in that group everyone sees now.
Pemsl said the “new chapter next season,” without Jok around will be different, but that he knows they’ll all stay connected. His impact on them was too much not to, Pemsl said.
Maybe Jok will be rewarded, too. He rejoined Twitter on Saturday night (@Jok_City14) and got a follow from every teammate but one: Pemsl. Pemsl joked he hadn’t yet because Jok hadn’t “had a Twitter in three years.” Jok laughed it off, saying, “that’s just Cordell.”
Jokes aside, the reward of a Twitter follow is just a joke among friends. For all he’s done for them and the program, Jok’s teammates want to see him in the NBA.
“I kind of want to see him at Golden State. I can see Pete sitting in the corner with Draymond Green kicking an assist to him,” Pemsl said through a smile. “Whoever takes a shot with him is in for a treat because he’s special player. He can do a lot of things and definitely help an NBA team.”
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