UNC Basketball Player Profiles: JP Tokoto


It’s time for us to continue our UNC Player Profiles series as we go through each North Carolina basketball player and give you our take and analysis on them. This post features none other than freshman JP Tokoto. The 6-6 small forward from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin committed to the Tar Heels in March of 2011 making him the second to commit behind point guard Marcus Paige in the new class of freshmen for Carolina.

Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Everything about Tokoto’s game is to like. He’s got the athleticism to mimic former Carolina stars Vince Carter and Jerry Stackhouse and the dunking ability to match. I know Tokoto has heard this same comparison about a million times since he signed his letter of intent, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth to it. The good news for JP is that he won’t be expected to be those two guys right away which should relieve some of the pressure off of him.

What we will expect to see from Tokoto as fans though are some tantalizing dunks in transition. His leaping ability is second to none and really is his trademark skill among his other abilities. We all salivate while we reminisce all of those breakaway dunks and alley oops that Carter and Stack used to pull off during their tenure, and it gets us excited knowing that Tokoto can allow us to relive those moments.

Of course, Tokoto has to be able to be effective in other areas in order to allow those big momentum plays to happen. One of those things is defense. The Tar Heels have always been a team that likes to get out and run on the break and create easy baskets, but you cannot expect many fast breaks without forcing turnovers. JP as a freshman is perhaps North Carolina’s best defensive player. That’s a big statement to make considering he plays on a team with Reggie Bullock and Dexter Strickland who are both proven defenders, but after watching him play a few times, I still believe there is truth here. JP is able to be such a great defensive player because of his long reach. With it, he is versatile enough to guard three different positions both on the perimeter and the low block.

Tokoto’s reach allows him to crash the defensive glass, block shots, and disrupt passing lanes all of which lead to JP getting opportunities on the other end of the break. It should also be understood that Tokoto can score in the half court offense as well. Tokoto may not be the best three point threat on the Carolina roster, but he is a very deadly mid range shooter. JP has good quickness off the dribble and his length and ability to elevate off of the ground make him nearly impossible to block similar to former Tar Heel Charlie Scott. He also has a knack for getting to the basket and getting many high percentage shots. This will also allow him to be a huge beneficiary of missed shots from his teammates because he will be able to soar over everyone for the tip jam a shot that guys like Harrison Barnes and James Michael McAdoo have mastered.

JP Tokoto has all the intangibles to be a great player for North Carolina. I see him being the perfect compliment player off the bench and will regularly be called upon by Roy Williams to lock opponents down on defense. He may not be the leading scorer or even one of the top five leading scorers on the team, but his big play ability will really make Tokoto a fan favorite this season.