Interesting Path to UNC for Tokoto

The J.P. Tokoto recruitment seemed like a smooth ride, but for the North Carolina commitment it was anything but that.

When J.P. Tokoto burst onto the scene the May following his freshman season people had high expectations for his career. He found his way into the national top 10, and was seen as a premier player in the class, but then one week in June of last year changed things. There was a major bump in what seemed like a smooth road to stardom.

Traditionally the state of Wisconsin is one of the toughest to get a high level player to leave. It does happen occasionally, but when Wisconsin and Marquette both offered Tokoto right after his freshman year, it was known that it wouldn't be easy to get the 6-foot-5 small forward with elite level athleticism.

With the Badgers and Golden Eagles in hot pursuit, the national powers were soon to follow. Kansas offered next, and soon schools such as Duke, Minnesota, Indiana, and Michigan State all joined the party offering Tokoto.

North Carolina would offer at Midnight on June 15 following his sophomore year, which at the time was Roy Williams' policy in terms of the earliest he would give an offer. With family in the area, most felt that the Tar Heels would be tough to beat, though also Duke, Kansas, and the local schools were seen as serious threats.

Overall things could not be going better for Tokoto at the time. He was one of the few 2012 prospects invited to the 2010 NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp, he had offers from nearly every major school in the country, and he was a consensus top 10 ranked kid in the country, but then things took a massive turn.

At NBA Camp simply nothing clicked for Tokoto. It took him three days of games to even scratch in the scorebook, and quite simply he looked overmatched against some of the top players in the country. His shot was off, he couldn't convert drives, and everything was going against him.

To his credit Tokoto didn't go into a shell, answered questions from reporters at the event, and never tried to say he was injured or back away from competition.

Still the questions began coming in a big way, and with good reason. Tokoto didn't quite look like he belonged in the elite class, and the ranking began to fall. With that college coaches from some of the schools on his list also began to take a second look, and a few even pulled out of his recruitment.

Tokoto has rebounded with a strong junior year on the high school court, but as a Wisconsin resident people are going to question if his numbers mean that he is the top 10 player that people thought he was before the previous summer, or if he is taking advantage of weaker competition.

While some schools backed off Tokoto after the summer, one school that didn't was North Carolina. Coach Williams made trips to Wisconsin to see him, and also he hosted Tokoto for an unofficial visit during the season.

After making the trip to North Carolina and talking things over with his family, Tokoto began to figure out that UNC was the right place for him. On February 14 he narrowed his list down to eight schools, but it was North Carolina that simply stood out.

The Tar Heels perseverance ended in a commitment on Wednesday evening. Tokoto, who is now seen as the No. 42 prospect in the nation, is the second commitment for the Tar Heels in the 2012 class joining Marcus Paige who committed in early January.

It wasn't an easy road for Tokoto, and he clearly became one of the most talked about players in the class from an early age. Now he will once again be one of the most evaluated and scrutinized prospects as fans and scouts alike try to figure out who is the real player. Is it the one who showed up at NBA Camp, or the dazzling athlete who was a consensus top 10 player?

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