The former WDM Valley and Iowa star was here to raise awareness for the Dut Jok Youth Foundation ... and see his mom. Chad Leistikow / The Register
In addition to a break from his pre-NBA Draft traveling whirlwind, Peter Jok is accomplishing two important things in his return to Des Moines this Memorial Day weekend.
One, the former Iowa basketball star got to see his mom again.
An unapologetic “mama’s boy,” Jok hadn’t seen her in more than a year. Peter has requested (and already received) home cooking from his mom, Amelia Ring Bol, who works in their native South Sudan as a representative in the National Legislative Assembly. He gobbled up his favorite African dish, plus rice and beans.
“She’s been cooking all good food for me,” Jok said. “We’ve just talked. It was good to catch up.”
Two, he is here to (hopefully) raise money for a worthy cause.
Peter and his older brother, Dau, were at the Valley Community Center in West Des Moines on Friday to meet fans and escalate awareness for a unique fundraiser that benefits the foundation named for their late father.
For a $5 donation, fans can compete virtually in a 3-point shooting competition against Peter Jok, UCLA’s Bryce Alford or Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig — friends of Peter’s who have stepped up to help benefit the youth (and perhaps future difference-makers) in South Sudan.
How to compete against these former college stars? You basically need a basketball, a hoop and an Apple device to download the free “Get Buckets Live” app — co-created by former Hawkeye player Jason Bauer. (Detailed information is attached to this story).
With severe famine and an ongoing civil war, poverty in South Sudan is prevalent.
Money raised will go to the Dut Jok Youth Foundation and, specifically, help fund college scholarships in South Sudan. By reaching youth in South Sudan, Dau Jok — the foundation’s creator — hopes long-elusive peace can someday be a reality in their native, war-torn country.
“The biggest thing is there seems to be no avenues toward lasting peace,” Dau said. “For me, when I think about the foundation … I think about 50 years from now.”
He and Peter want to provide kids there with a four-letter word: hope.
Here’s the eye-opening part: It takes just $400 to fully fund one year of college in South Sudan — tuition, books and housing.
“What $5 can do is buy books kids need,” Dau Jok said Friday, offering an example of how far each donation can reach. “If you have $500, you can provide school supplies for over 300 kids for the whole year. There’s a big need for it.”
Peter Jok hopes dollar signs are in his personal future, too — by making it to the NBA.
He’s had four NBA team workouts so far — with the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers — and has nine more scheduled prior to the June 22 NBA Draft.
Essentially, his routine every two days is this: Get on a plane, stay in a hotel, work out for an NBA team … and repeat.
“My main goal right now is to get drafted,” Jok said. “I’ve been attacking every workout like it’s my last. It only takes one team to fall in love with you. I’ve got one thing every team needs in the NBA, which is shooting.”
At the NBA Combine in Chicago earlier this month, Jok had lackluster offensive numbers as he focused on showing teams that he could defend. That has been the ongoing question mark for Jok, who led the Big Ten Conference in scoring last season at 19.9 points a game but noted he’s received good feedback from teams so far.
“Orlando’s been my best (workout). I played really well, shot it really well,” Jok said.
The Magic, he said, told his agent “they were impressed and surprised I could do more than just shoot. I was really good at pick-and-roll and all that stuff.”
Orlando has four draft picks, including two in the early second round. Jok’s most realistic, best hope is to be a second-round pick.
Jok flies out of Des Moines on Monday to be in place for a Tuesday workout with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Friday, though, his focus was on his homeland. He wore a medallion in the shape of Africa around his neck that his mother brought for him this weekend.
“I feel like education’s the key (back home),” Jok said. “If I can help one kid, South Sudan will be a better place.”
How to play, donate:
What: The Dut Jok Youth Foundation is raising money for education in South Sudan with a “College All-Stars” fundraiser in which fans can donate $5 and compete against former players Peter Jok (Iowa), Bryce Alford (UCLA) and Bronson Koenig (Wisconsin) in a virtual 3-point shooting contest.
How to play: Download “Get Buckets Live” (Apple devices only), then press the green fundraiser event button, and choose Dut Jok Youth Foundation — College All-Stars Fundraiser Event. Starting Sunday, you can select “I Want to Play a Celebrity” then donate $5 and pick the college all-star to play against. Use your phone or device to record yourself shooting 10 3-point shots in 90 seconds.
Schedule: Compete against Alford at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 6; Koenig at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 7; Jok at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 8. (You should record your performance ahead of time.)
Other ways to donate: Go to GetBucketsLive.com and click on "fundraising" in the menu bar and choose Dut Jok Youth Foundation; or mail a check payable to Dut Jok Youth Foundation, 5442 Westwood Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50266.