Jok's new diet, rekindled focus could mean big things at Iowa

Chad Leistikow

NORTH LIBERTY, Ia. – Peter Jok now begins every day with a motivating reminder.

After Iowa's basketball season ended in late March with an NCAA Tournament loss to Gonzaga, the shooting guard felt it was time to rekindle something he did while in high school. He documented goals for the next season, sharing them only with teammates, his closest friends and coach Fran McCaffery.

"Every time I wake up, it's on my phone," Jok said. "And when I work out, I think about it."

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Jok, a 6-foot-6 rising junior with enormous upside, admitted that he has fallen short in some areas since being McCaffery's only recruit in the Class of 2013. Now that he has begun to shake bad eating and sleeping habits, he is starting to see results.

The diet, that's the toughest part. The temptations are difficult, especially at restaurants with teammates. Aaron White, who became Iowa's No. 2 all-time scoring leader, was key in teaching him that eating healthy is a process.

If dieting was easy, everyone could do it.

"It's hard right now. The places we go to eat, there's a lot of good food," Jok said. "It's just how bad you want it."

Aside from cutting out fast food, especially French fries, he has eliminated vices like Mountain Dew and Sprite. Now, he only drinks water and juices.

That's a key discipline he emulated from another departed Hawkeye, Gabe Olaseni.

"I asked him after practice one day, 'How come you don't get tired?' " Jok said. "He said, 'All I do is drink water.' "

Jok suffers from asthma. But he said his symptoms have nearly gone away since he began better eating and drinking habits.

Another aspect to Jok's renewed well-being is getting proper rest, an emphasis of Iowa strength and conditioning coach Bill Maxwell.

Jok said he used to go to bed at 2 a.m., sometimes even later. It was at 2:43 a.m. on a Saturday in April 2014 that he was arrested for OWI. Jok wound up serving a four-day jail sentence in September after a subsequent arrest for driving without a license.

Now, he makes sure he's in bed by midnight — and averaging 8-9 hours of sleep. ("Ten on weekends," he added.)

"My freshman year, I was really bad," Jok said. "Last year, I was a little bit better."

There's physical evidence of his lifestyle change at the Prime Time League, where Jok scored 29 points Sunday despite a bruised (shooting) shoulder.

He looks sleeker and more muscular than he did as a sophomore, when he averaged 7.0 points a game and shot 34.3 percent (36-for-105) from 3-point range. His weight is stable from last year at 200 pounds, but he said his energy is higher despite working out three times a day.

Jok expects to play small forward this season, the "3" in McCaffery's motion offense, after starting 17 of 18 Big Ten Conference games at the "2" as a sophomore.

He said hasn't felt this good since before tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee in the summer of 2010. He played through the injury as a sophomore at Des Moines Roosevelt, thinking it was tendinitis, and then had surgery in June 2011 before transferring to West Des Moines Valley for his final two seasons.

Everything seems to be coming full circle for Jok — feeling healthy and writing down goals, just like in high school.

If his rededicated lifestyle changes translate to the court, he could be on his way to fulfilling his private goal. With a smile at the end of an interview Sunday afternoon, he said he might reveal it someday.

If he does, that mean things probably went well for Jok and the 2015-16 Hawkeyes.

"I don't want to tell everybody; it's for me to achieve," Jok said. "Just reach my potential, and do the best I can for the team."