Tag: J.P. Tokoto

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North Carolina junior forward J.P. Tokoto to enter NBA Draft


North Carolina, a team many expect to contend for a national title next season, will have to account for the loss of one of its key contributors in order to do so. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, 6-foot-6 junior forward J.P. Tokoto has decided to enter his name into the 2015 NBA Draft.

Tokoto, a starter each of the last two seasons for the Tar Heels, averaged 8.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game for a team that won 26 games and reached both the ACC tournament title game and the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. A very good athlete and defender, Tokoto’s currently considered to be a second round pick in this year’s draft.

His perimeter shooting ability, as he shot just over 42 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from three (which was a substantial improvement from his sophomore year) this past season, is the primary reason why he isn’t thought to be an even better prospect by NBA decision-makers.

Tokoto acknowledged that he needs to put in a lot of work to improve his shot in the weeks leading up to pre-draft workouts in speaking with Wojnarowski, and he’s yet to hire an agent but intends to remain in the draft. Tokoto also provided an interesting reason as to why he’s decided that moving to the professional ranks would benefit him more than staying in Chapel Hill for another season.

“I feel like there can be a lot more to me as a player, more than just the defensive player who can occasionally dunk the ball,” Tokoto told Yahoo Sports. “I know I can be so much more, but I’m not sure that I’m pushed to be that much more [in college].

“I want to focus on my game, working with trainers and pro coaches over the summer and next year. I think that’ll give me the best chance to grow than staying school and being that player that fit into the mold of my first three years [at Carolina].”

With Tokoto no longer in the fold, more minutes open up for rising sophomore Theo Pinson with classmate Justin Jackson already firmly entrenched in the starting lineup. Pinson missed 14 games due to injury this season, and the time away from the court impacted his minutes upon his return as one would expect.

Pinson didn’t play more than seven minutes in any of the five games he played in after returning in early March from a foot injury suffered in late January. Prior to the injury Pinson played 12 minutes or more in each of North Carolina’s first 18 games.

No. 4 North Carolina beats No. 5 Arkansas but loses Kennedy Meeks to sprained knee

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Mike Anderson’s Arkansas Razorbacks like to play “the fastest 40 minutes in college basketball,” a style in which they use full court pressure to turn over opponents and cash in on the resulting fast break opportunities. However in No. 4 North Carolina, Arkansas ran into a team that also prefers a faster tempo, and the Tar Heels had the advantage in both turnovers and fast break points as they won 87-78 in Jacksonville.

As a result of the win Roy Williams’ team is headed to the West regional semis next week in Los Angeles, where they’ll play either No. 1 Wisconsin or No. 8 Oregon Thursday night.

North Carolina committed 16 turnovers, just over three turnovers per game more than their average on the season (12.7), but that was still better than Arkansas when it comes to ball control. The Razorbacks committed 21 turnovers, which were converted into 23 points by the Tar Heels (plus-six edge in points off turnovers). Also of note regarding the turnovers committed by North Carolina is the fact that not many of those mistakes led to fast break opportunities for Arkansas.

The Razorbacks scored just seven fast break points, seven fewer than North Carolina. Forced to find the majority of their looks against a set up North Carolina defense, Arkansas shot 36.9 percent from the field and 8-for-25 from beyond the arc. Michael Qualls (ten rebounds) led all scorers with 27 points but shot 8-for-19 from the field, and Bobby Portis finished with 16 points on 5-for-15 shooting while also grabbing 12 rebounds.

By comparison North Carolina shot 45.0 percent from the field and 4-for-10 from three, and they also outscored Arkansas 29-22 from the foul line. Marcus Paige scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, but the efforts of J.P. Tokoto were of greater importance especially when it came to handling the Arkansas pressure. Tokoto, who also scored 13 points, finished with eight assists and no turnovers.

Add in fellow perimeter players Justin Jackson (16 points, three rebounds) and Nate Britt (ten points, four rebounds), and North Carolina had enough productivity to beat Arkansas despite quiet evenings from the majority of their big men.

The front court is where the concern lies for North Carolina in regards to next week, especially if they face Wisconsin, in the aftermath of Saturday’s win. Kennedy Meeks (nine points, four rebounds in 15 minutes) left the game in the second half with what was termed as a sprained left knee, and while the Tar Heels do have options they need Meeks available.

Brice Johnson scored seven points and grabbed 13 rebounds before fouling out, and neither Isaiah Hicks nor Joel James were all that effective against Arkansas. North Carolina will need all four to be productive (with Johnson and Meeks being the key cogs) if they’re to be successful in Los Angeles if they’re to advance. The good news for North Carolina is that they’ll have another game to prepare for, thanks in large part to the play of their perimeter.

North Carolina’s J.P. Tokoto finishes with authority in win over UAB (VIDEO)

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J.P. Tokoto (AP Photo)

After knocking off North Carolina in Birmingham last season, Jerod Haase’s UAB Blazers looked to duplicate said feat Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill. Unfortunately for UAB things didn’t work out that way, with the 20th-ranked Tar Heels controlling the game from start to finish and winning by the final score of 89-58.

The highlight of the day for North Carolina: the above dunk by junior forward J.P. Tokoto on UAB forward William Lee. Tokoto finished the game with just three points to go along with four rebounds and three assists, but it didn’t matter much as Marcus Paige led six Tar Heels in double figures with 16 points.

Now 9-3 on the season, Roy Williams’ team will host William & Mary December 30 in their final non-conference game before beginning ACC play January 3 at Clemson.