Q&A with J.P. Tokoto

HAMPTON, Va. --- J.P. Tokoto entered the spring considered one of the top 10 prospects in the 2012 class. As his first event of the circuit, the Boo Williams Invitational, was wrapping up, he spoke about his game and his recruitment ...

How's the transition from your high school season to AAU ball - do you need to make adjustments?

Faster. It's way faster. School ball is sometimes fast, but there's tempo. AAU is much quicker and the refs let you play more. …Everyone has to make an adjustment.

You played with the 16-under team here this weekend, yet you're good enough to play in the 17-under division …

The only reason I'm not playing with the 17s this tournament is because they're not here – they're in Knoxville, Tenn., but I usually play with the 17s.

What's your focus on the AAU circuit this spring?

This spring I'm just working out, trying to get my handle better, get my jumpshot better. We're a really good team this year, I think we can do really well.

What position do you see yourself playing on the college level?

If I work on my hands and my jumpshot and get stronger, I could see myself anywhere they put me.

How has your game evolved over the last year?

Last year I was primarily a four man working down low, but I've extended my jumpshot range, I got better with my handle, got stronger, so they put me on the wing.

This weekend it looked like the thing you did best on offense was take the ball to the hoop. Would you say that's the strength of your game right now?

That's the strength of my game now, yeah. Getting to the rim, that's what I like to do.

Is there a type of college system or a style of play that you think fits you best?

Like I said, if I get my jumpshot and handles better, I feel I can play anywhere. I like to play fast, but sometimes you've got to run a set play and that's cool with me.

How would you describe yourself as a basketball player?

Hard-working, I can jump and I'm lengthy – I use my length a lot.

Where does your college list stand at this point?

It goes Wisconsin, Marquette, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Kansas. Getting looks from Florida, North Carolina hasn't offered yet, Michgan State has offered --

Do you think that North Carolina will offer?

Yeah, June 15th.

Are you excited about that?

Yeah, I'm very excited to talk to Coach (Williams). I'm waiting for it.

How does that process work? Is there a mutual understanding that an offer will happen or is it a situation where it might happen?

It's more of something that might happen. It's just a matter of time. If I keep playing the way I'm playing, and keep getting better, it's going to happen.

Does Coach Williams explain why he hasn't offered when so many other schools have?

He explained why he doesn't offer sophomores. He's part of a committee where they made a promise to each other not to offer a player until his sophomore year so he's honored that commitment ever since.

What about your thoughts on Duke?

It was good they won the championship. I watched that game – it was intense. But I'm not playing favorites right now.

Did you watch Duke or UNC growing up?

North Carolina was the team I watched growing up a lot. I didn't watch Duke all that much, but I did see them play a few times when I was a little older.

You're still only a high school sophomore, yet your recruitment is progressing quickly. What timeframe are you looking at to move toward a decision?

Me and my mom and my dad have talked and we're going to wait until the summer of next year. We'll get a list of schools, cut it down and look at all our possibilities.

With so many schools, how will you cut that down?

I'm just going to look at education, basketball history, who's there, the recruits that are coming in my grade. I know I'm not going to be handed a position, but I want to play.

Is there any chance you could commit earlier if you get the UNC offer?

(Laughs) I don't know. It's going to be a hard decision with all the schools recruiting me.

What coaches do you think have been the most frequent visitors to your gym over the last year?

Wisconsin, even though they're the home team, they make a lot of visits to my school and show how much they're interested in me. Coach (Roy) Williams has come up four or five times – twice to my open gym, two of my games and I believe he came another time.

Is that part of Williams' recruiting pitch?

No, he doesn't really do that. He said he's not going to let anybody outwork him, which was surprising to me because he's in North Carolina and I'm all the way in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. So that's a long trip to be making that many trips. It's an honor to me to be recruited by a coach like that.

What's your relationship like with Roy Williams?

We don't talk on a regular basis, but when we do talk we stay on the phone for about an hour, which is cool to me that he takes that much time out of his schedule to talk to me … We talk about my team, how I'm doing, how my brother and sisters are doing … He's just a real personal guy, it's not just all about basketball.

Are there any other coach relationships that you've developed that stand out?

Coach Bo Ryan (at Wisconsin), we talk a lot. Coach (Greg) Gard from Wisconsin. I talk to Coach O(rlando Antigua) from Kentucky a lot … Michigan State just recently came up for a game so I talked to Coach (Dwayne) Stephens. Every time we talk to a coach they're real cool, which is part of the recruiting pitch, but it's pretty nice. … I've talked to Coach K(rzyzewski) on the phone about three times already and like I said with Coach Williams, he stays on the phone with me for like an hour. I love talking to Coach K and talking to Coach Roy Williams on the phone. That's every kid's dream – everybody wants to talk to them.

Getting so much attention from college coaches and a lot of media attention here this weekend, what's that been like?

It's awesome, I love it. That's what everyone wants – and it's what I wanted. I put it in my head that if I want to get that, I have to get better, stay in the gym and make the people around me better. It's all about getting better in the gym and not worrying about who's in the crowd – just playing the game and playing hard every time.

Does that create any pressure to perform at an event like this?

Not to put up big numbers, but pressure to maintain my spot and keep getting better. I don't want to lose my spot, so I'm going to keep getting better and keep playing hard. J.P. Tokoto Profile

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