Tokoto & Family Impressed With Duke

It's not often that the Duke coaching staff extends a scholarship offer to high school sophomores. But that' s exactly what happened on Tuesday afternoon when Menomonee Falls (WI) small forward J.P. Tokoto had a chance to speak with Mike Krzyzewski. TDD spoke with Tokoto and his father to get a recap of what appears to be a fast moving recruiting week.

"J.P. spoke to Coach K this afternoon," said Tokoto's father, Trevor Trimble. "It's been a very exciting day for both J.P. and our family. It's an honor to receive a scholarship from Duke."

Indeed the offer could be seen coming for those in attendance at last weekend's Elite Camp where the 6-foot-6 small forward showed off explosive athleticism and offensive game, while managing to remain within a team concept. However, it was one exchange with Krzyzewski that appeared to ignite the rest of the camp's performance.

"In the first game we played I only scored four points, but did pretty well on defense. There was a player who wasn't really passing all that much or hitting his teammates on the break. After the first game, Coach K came up and told me to be more assertive and to try and create more."

Over the next couple of games, the advice was apparently taken literally as Tokoto impressed all those in attendance. And, apparently, Krzyzewski himself. But, under NCAA regulations, Duke couldn't recruit any of the campers while on campus. That changed shortly after the family returned to Wisconsin.

"The first thing they told us - both players and parents - was that under the rules they were not going to be able to recruit while at the camp. We returned the night after the camp and heard from our AAU coach that we needed to call Coach K," said Timble. "We tried, but it didn't work out. So today we were finally able to get in touch with him."

When the two sides got in touch, Krzyzewski first spoke with Tokoto's parents. Then he had a chance to speak with the player to extend a formal offer.

"He told us he thought our family was perfect fit at Duke and that J.P. was a perfect fit as well. In our conversation he compared J.P. to players like Grant Hill and Scottie Pippen in that he's a player who is very long and can play and defend multiple positions. To hear those kinds of things from a coach with his track record is an honor. He told me he thought J.P. had the eyes of a champion. The main thing he talked about what his character and personality and how that was a perfect for Duke."

So, what exactly makes Tokoto such "perfect fit" at Duke?

"I think he sees that we are about as parents first. He knows that J.P. is a kid who stays humble, but is hungry for success. We know that you can't take anything for granted with the gifts he's been given, but if he works hard the sky is the limit. I truly believe that. And, to have that thought echoed by a man like Coach K - someone who really seems to take pride in the character of his program and his student athletes - is really special."

"He told me that he thought I would be a perfect fit in what they are trying to do, and he said he liked what he's seen out of me as a player and a person," added Tokoto. "It was a great conversation."

While the Duke offer and recruiting approach was hot and heavy, Tokoto maintains that, due to the early nature of his recruiting process, no decision is imminent.

"Right now I am just focused on getting better. I want to get straight A's in school and getting better on the court. Everyone is pretty even at the moment. There are no favorites. I think by my junior year I will have been able to look around and soak a lot more in. I want to keep looking into things."

And what will the talented prospect be looking for as he looks deeper into the various options?

"Really it's going to be academics, the history of the respective program, and the location. Those are the three big factors."

With their son beginning to process the information and various decisions needed in order to make a choice about his future, what do his parents look for the most as the process moves along?

"We are looking for somewhere that has really strong academics. Obviously strong basketball is important, but you can't sacrifice academics for that. Your basketball career could end in a minute. Nothing is promised, and you need the kind of security a great education can provide. That's something Duke can do, obviously. They are one of the country's top educational institutions."

And, while location is a consideration, Trimble and Tokoto both point out that they are familiar with the Research Triangle area.

"We have family in the Raleigh area," said Trimble. "J.P.'s aunt has a house there, so there would be family for him to get a good meal and if there's ever a problem they could be right over to him."

And, as with most prospects, the issue of playing time is certainly one that will factor into a decision - whenever that point in the process arrives.

"We have some homework to do as a family on all the factors," said Trimble. "We want to look deeper into things. It's kind of like we have a lot of buffet items with all the options. At some point we are going to need to choose the kind of meal."


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