Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

UNC Basketball 2012 Recruiting Class Closer Look: SF JP Tokoto

SF JP Tokoto is one of the most exciting athletes in the 2012 class. Maybe the best dunker in the class, Tokoto has an expanding game that has grown a lot since his commitment to Chapel Hill.  Tokoto quickly chose Carolina from a large group of suitors that included Wisconsin, Duke, UConn, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Marquette, and Maryland.

Tokoto grew up a soccer player and didn’t start playing basketball until the sixth grade.  And yes, that is “late” for players of Tokoto’s talent.   JP burst onto the national scene his sophomore year in high school playing for Menomonee Falls, WI.  He committed to Carolina early in the process and has buckled down lately in preparation of his arrival.

Tokoto has put on weight and is now up to 6-6 200 lbs.  Adding roughly 15 pounds and over 30 more three pointers made from his junior to his senior seasons.  Tokoto is a thrilling above the rim, a highlight machine and will be a fan favorite day one.  His game still needs polish but he’s improved his shooting a lot in the last year.  He can create his own shot off the dribble and finish at the rim as well as anybody in the class.

JP is a very good rebounder who excels at using his length in the lane defensively.  He will have to adjust his defensive style at the next level and become more of a one on one defender.  Tokoto has an unbelievable motor and puts out maximum energy on the floor.

The work ethic Tokoto has shown is impressive.  Working with a trainer in the weight room and instituting a rigorous regime to improve his jump shot and expand his range.  He’s much improved, but far from done.  He needs to continue to work hard on the finer points of his game.  In high school his size, speed and athleticism was enough a lot of nights.  It won’t be in Carolina.

Given the Heels depth on the perimeter don’t be surprised to see Tokoto stashed deep on the bench until sophomore season.  That’s not a bad thing at all in my mind.  If you think about it, PJ Hairston was much higher rated coming out of HS and played only sparingly for large chunks of the season.

A developmental year for Tokoto would be a great thing in my view.  Give him a year with a small role, one where most of his learning comes from watching the veterans and practicing hard everyday, with a little taste of playing time.  Fans want to see Tokoto now and will want to believe that Roy will find a way to get him quality minutes.  I guess it’s possible but I just don’t see how.  With Hairston, Reggie Bullock, Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland ahead of the freshman only a repeat of 2011’s rash of injuries on the perimeter will carve out significant minutes for JP.


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