5 Star SF Ready For Duke-Wisconsin Tonight

When the Blue Devils face off against the Wisconsin Badgers tonight there will be a number of interested parties in the stands. Perhaps none more notable than 2012 swingman J.P. Tokoto. The Wisconsin prospect spoke to TDD on Tuesday night.

With Duke already on the road heading to Madison, the coaching staff splintered a bit in order to head over to Menomonee Falls (Wisc.) High to check out J.P. Tokoto.

"Coach Wojo stopped in today to sit in on practice before heading to Madison with the team," said Tokoto's step-father Trevor Trimble. "On Wednesday we are going to the Duke-Wisconsin game. Any time you can see two great coaches going at it, it's a great opportunity. We are looking forward to it and hoping to just absorb that level of coaching in what should be a great game."

Ever a student of the game, Tokoto was a bit late checking in on Tuesday night as he and his high school coach were off scouting two opponents in his upcoming high school season. It's something the 6-foot-6 wing says he's learning to do more and more as he matures.

"It's something my coach and I do more and more," said Tokoto. "It's for me and my teammates. It helps because when I'm on the court I can share what I've seen and we can use that. You have to just play your game, but if you can force your opponents out of their comfort zone, that' makes you even more effective."

The idea of scouting may be somewhat new as he enters his sophomore season, but Tokoto will take that approach tonight when he watches the Blue Devils and Badgers.

"I'm going as both a fan and to scout both programs. It's going to be a great game, and I want to definitely enjoy it. At the same time, I want to be able to look at both teams to see how they are working together. What kind of system they are playing. How the coaches have them working together. If they are playing hard all the time. That kind of thing."

Regardless of the outcome tonight, both programs figure to be a factor for Tokoto in the coming recruiting battle. Both have sent coaches to his high school and both figure to continue to make themselves heard and seen. And, as with any high major player, they are not alone.

"Duke sent Coach Wojciechowski in today to watch practice. Under the rules he couldn't talk to me, but it was pretty cool to look up and see him there. Duke actually offered me this summer the day I got back from their camp. Since then they have been out to see me once, and today was the second time."

"Wisconsin, because they're local, have been in a lot. So has Marquette. Minnesota has been in a few times along with West Virginia. Danny Manning from Kansas and Roy Williams from North Carolina have come in as well. An assistant from Stanford was in recently as well. It's been pretty surprising to see it all happening."

"Honestly [the attention from high major programs] it's a situation that motivates me to keep working hard because you can lose it at any point. It makes me want to keep working and to get better."

Considered the 'next big thing' by many recruiting analysts, he knows there's a coming storm of publicity, over-analyzation, and more. In fact it's already started. But how does one prepare for such a storm of attention?

"I just try to remain personable and be myself. Sometimes I take a break from basketball and just hang with my friends and get away from it. I want to stay balanced in life."

Still, being such highly sought prospect, Tokoto's opponents are looking to make a name for themselves as he continues his young high school career. As such, he's seeing a different brand of defense and gamesmanship already.

"I definitely approaching the game as though I have a target on my back. This year I've noticed people playing me different. It's more physical - there's more pushing and grabbing of my jersey. That kind of thing. Teams believe that they can take my out of my game that way. They figure that if they can stop me from scoring they can stop me."

So how does one counter that?

"I just work hard and don't let them get into my head. If I'm facing a double team then I'll look to kick the ball to the open man, and go in and get some rebounds. Every night I just want to compete and leave the other team saying, 'man that J.P. kid can play.'"

Over the summer and during his individual workouts with his step-father, Tokoto says he's focused on a few specific areas of his game in hopes of becoming a more well-rounded player. So far he is pleased with the results, but admits he wants more.

"I have really tried to focus on improving my lateral quickness and ability to move my feet on defense. It allows me to stop reaching. I'm trying to prove I'm a little bit quicker than most people think. I play on the wing, but being able to check guards and wing players is important to me."

As he continues to improve and his star continues to brighten, there's little doubt that J.P. Tokoto will be one to watch over the next few seasons and summers. As Tremble puts it:

"He is definitely committed to getting better and wiser, while learning from the great coaches he is being exposed to."

Tokoto is rated as a five star prospect and the No. 4 overall prospect in the class of 2012.

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