Williams ‘Surprised’ by Tokoto’s Early Exit

Initial conversations between Roy Williams and J.P. Tokoto didn't include mention of testing the NBA waters.

CHAPEL HILL, NC. – J.P. Tokoto’s decision to forgo his senior season at North Carolina and enter the NBA Draft was not expected by Roy Williams.

The junior wing declared for the June draft in an interview with Yahoo Sports on April 8.

“It was a surprise because we had not talked about it,” Williams told InsideCarolina.com prior to a Tar Heel Tour event this week. “He came in and we had met on one Thursday and he said nothing about it. Then he went home Easter weekend and he came back the next Wednesday and we talked about it and then he made the decision that night.”

Tokoto averaged 8.3 points and 5.6 rebounds during his junior season. The 6-foot-6 wing shot 42.8 percent from the field and led or tied for the team lead in assists in 20 games in 2014-15.

Tokoto acknowledged during the Yahoo Sports interview that he was not a first-round pick, due in part to a jump shot that needs work. The Menomonee Falls, Wis. native didn’t initially sign with an agent, but has since passed the deadline to withdraw from the draft and maintain his NCAA eligibility.

Williams reiterated his support for Tokoto’s decision.

“I have always said that I want kids to do what they want to do,” the 12th-year UNC head coach said. “He came in and asked about trying it and I said, ‘I’ll support you in whatever you want to do.’ So, that is what he is doing. He’s back in school right now taking his finals, and hopefully it will work out for him very, very well.”

While Tokoto’s announcement was unexpected, the return of other potential NBA prospects – guard Marcus Paige, wing Justin Jackson and forward Brice Johnson – was not.

“I have talks with them all year and I talked to all three of them individually and felt like they were going to be back,” Williams said. “There was no reason for concern because I had been talking to them about it.”

Tokoto is one of 91 early entrants – a total that includes 48 collegiate players - in this year’s NBA Draft. The current mock draft at DraftExpress.com projects Tokoto be selected No. 42 overall.

Pete Dawson contributed to this story.

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