By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Peter Jok talked health, hoops and a little politics while meeting with the media on Friday.
Iowa’s leading scorer expects to be in the lineup on Sunday when the 13-10 Hawkeyes face Nebraska at 1:06 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Jok has missed the last two games because of what he described as the muscles in his back stiffening.
His team responded well in his absence by defeating Ohio State and Rutgers in the last two games by scores of 85-72 and 83-63, respectively.
“I feel great right now,” the 6-foot-6 Jok said Friday before practice. “I’ve been doing a lot rehabbing and our trainer Brad (Floy) has been doing a great job working on my back. I also saw a chiropractor, so I’m feeling good.”
Jok said he planned to practice on Friday and Saturday in order to test his back.
“I feel good,” he said. “I’m going to be out there on Sunday.”
Jok said he benefitted both physically and mentally from resting for two games. He is averaging 21.0 points per game, but he only combined to score 28 points in the three games before he sat out
“Missing the two games was really good for my body physically and also mentally,” Jok said. “I feel like I’m mentally back in the game and I’m more hungry now. It was a great time for me to take it off and get my back better, but also mentally, getting back into it.”
Jok led the cheers from the Iowa bench as his teammates picked up the slack without him. Iowa is coming off two games in which its offensive flow was as good as it’s been all season.
Iowa has had four players score in double figures in each of the past two games.
“The main thing that that out to me watching them was defense,” Jok said. “They really picked up the defense. And also on offense, they were being really patient.
“So I’m really proud of every single one of them.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery is proud of the way in which Jok has handled this setback.
“I think he'll be fine,” McCaffery said. “I think he'll play. I think he'll play well. He's been diligent with his treatment and rehabilitation, been really smart with what he does with his body.
“He'll shoot and do some running. He was in the pool with some no-resistance exercise. He's been really mature with that. I've been very impressed with him. But I expected him to be that way. That's the way he always is.”
McCaffery said Friday that Jok would pick up where he left off in terms of his role on the team.
“If he's ready to go, I'd play him 38 minutes,” McCaffery said.
McCaffery isn’t concerned about Jok’s return disrupting Iowa’s team chemistry.
“I think he'll assimilate right back in and won't be a problem,” McCaffery said. “We did move the ball a little bit more because he's the ultimate green light guy, so he can pull whenever he wants. Sometimes others do the same.”
Meanwhile, Jok also addressed the statement he recently made on Instagram in which he called for President Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration to be reversed.
Jok was 3 years old when his father, Dat Jok, a Sudanese general, was assassinated in the ongoing battles in their home region of South Sudan. Jok, along with his older brother Dau and younger siblings Jo Jo and Alek, then joined his mother and grandmother in migrating to the United States. Jok grew up in the Des Moines area and graduated from West Des Moines Valley High School.
“I heard about it on the news and the first thing that came to my mind was if my mom was going to be able to come back or not,” Jok said. “And then I talked to my brother and he said she could travel back and forth whenever she wants. So I was really happy about that.
“But I also have some family affected by it and also a lot of friends and their families and people they know who are affected by it. So that really touched me. And me being a leader in my community, I felt like I had to say something.”
Jok said he has received a lot of positive feedback since posting his statement.
“People who are affected by it thanked me for what I did,” Jok said.
McCaffery praised his star senior for speaking out and for having a unique perspective.
“I was proud of him,” McCaffery said. “I thought incredibly eloquent in his remarks. Thoughtful, caring. I'm not surprised, that's who he is. Nobody in this room knows what it's like to be a refugee. He does. Can't imagine being six years old, being a refugee in Uganda. I applaud him for speaking up. I applaud him for how he spoke up.
“I think everyone appreciates where he's coming from and supports his ideas.”
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