IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A critical reason for Iowa's resounding success so far this season has been the improvement of Peter Jok.
"It feels good to be playing the way I'm playing right now, but I still have a long way to go," Jok said. "I'm just going to keep getting better. I'm not at my full potential yet."
Iowa's Mr. Basketball as a prep at Valley High School has ascended into a one of the top players in the Big Ten this year, as noted by the Big Ten Network on Monday when they named Jok the eighth-best player in the conference to this point.
He's come a long way since his days at Valley and when he first stepped foot on campus at Iowa.
"He was not physically strong enough, nor did he have the stamina to compete at the Big Ten level for 28-32 minutes a game and be a starter," Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. "He wasn't good enough."
"It was really hard. I couldn't play because of my defense, but it just motivated me to become a better player," Jok said. "After trips when we came back I just went to the gym and put in extra work. I tried to guard Devyn Marble to become a better defender."
The junior's numbers have increased across the board this season for a No. 3 Hawkeye team that has yet to lose in the Big Ten. Jok is averaging 14.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while ranking first in the conference in steals, third in 3-point field goals made and 10th in scoring.
"The stuff he's doing now, he was doing as a freshman, he just wasn't in shape," Iowa guard Anthony Clemmons said. "Now that he's in shape, he's able to play through fatigue and still knock down crazy shots that he shoots."
Jok has proven to be more than a capable compliment to Jarrod Uthoff on the wing, with the best game of his career coming as recently as Jan. 21 when he put up 29 points, five rebounds and three steals in Iowa's 90-76 victory over Rutgers.
"I pretty much grew up here, there's a lot of fans here," Jok said. "A lot of family members come up to watch. They always text me after a game, call me and tell me how proud they are. It's great, it's like playing in front of a home crowd."
The Hawkeyes and Jok travel to No. 8 Maryland on Thursday in what is a key conference matchup.