IOWA CITY, Iowa - Peter Jok stood in the Iowa practice facility answering questions. Some were about basketball, some were addressing off-court actions. The sophomore guard was the only Hawkeye with a sports information director monitoring the interviews during media day earlier this month.
The university presence was understandable on the heels of a summer Jok would like to forget. The West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley High product was cited twice by police and spent time in jail. Incarceration hasn't been a common occurrence for Hawkeye players.
Coach Fran McCaffery suspended Jok from the team indefinitely after his second legal incident in July. He was reinstated on Aug. 26.
At that time, MCCaffery said he was undecided if Jok would miss any games due to his indiscretions. On media day, the coach said the sophomore was "good to go."
While clearly uneasy, Jok handled all questions on media day. He admitted his mistakes and hoped to move on.
"I just use it as a learning experience. In life you go through a lot of difficult problems. You just use them as an experience and not do them again and just focus on the future," he said.
Jok clearly angered his coach with his arrest for driving his moped while intoxicated in April and then being picked up on the vehicle again in July for operating it with a suspended license. He pleaded guilty to both.
McCaffery is hoping that community service and being detached from his team this summer will serve as enough punishment to keep Jok on the right path moving forward.
"He's been like a father figure. We've been talking about all that. He said he's got my back no matter what. It's been great," Jok said.
Jok's off-court issues occurred at an inopportune time for everybody involved. With Roy Devyn Marble off to the NBA, Jok and senior Josh Oglesby, who was arrested for public intoxication in July, were expected to compete for minutes at the two-guard spot.
It's not a given that Jok and Oglesby will receive all of the off-guard playing time. McCaffery mentioned on media day that Mike Gesell could slide over there from the one with Anthony Clemmons or Trey Dickerson running the point.
"I would say it's an open spot. it really is an open opportunity for any one of those guys," the coach said.
Perhaps that outlook would be different had Jok and Oglesby experienced a smooth off-season. Perhaps it would not. Either way, the Hawkeyes likely will need contributions from their two best returning three-point shooters.
Jok played in 27 games last season averaging 9.4 minutes and 4.4 points. The 6-foot-6, 200-pounder started off his freshman campaign strong, posting his top game-high point and rebound totals by the first week of December. He then fell into a funk.
"A lot of people thought I kept yanking him (from games) because he wasn't doing what he was supposed to do defensively. He was actually pretty good. He was gassed. So for him, if he wants to be a starter, wants to play starter's minutes, he's got to be in the best shape of his life. And I think he's really worked hard at that this summer. I think you'll see that he's a lot leaner," McCaffery said.
Jok finished strong, scoring 10 points in 16 minutes of a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Tennessee. He connected on two of three three-point attempts in that contest.
"All summer I've been in the weight room with Coach (BIll) Maxwell, our strength coach," Jok said. "We've been doing a lot of lower-body workouts and extra conditioning. I feel that it's been helping me out."
Jok said he remained at 200 pounds. The goal was being more toned and fit. He wasn't used to the rigors associated with major college basketball coming out of high school.
"Last year, I had confidence, I just didn't play a lot," he said. "But I feel like last year was just an experience and I took it as an experience year. This year, I'm ready to go."
With his troubles on and off the court hopefully behind him, Jok competes this October to find out how he fits into the Hawkeye rotation.
"I trust Coach McCaffery fully and whatever role he wants me to do, I'll do it," Jok said.
The Hawkeyes play host to Northwood (FL) Sunday at 2 p.m. (BTN Plus) in an exhibition at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.