Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports
J.P. Tokoto didn't play a very heavy role during his first season at North Carolina with Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston, Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald clogging up the wing positions. Now that Bullock and Strickland are gone, Tokoto will be a much more crucial piece of the Tar Heel puzzle.
And it appears he is at least mentally prepared for the challenge.
In a post-workout presser, via ICTV, Tokoto discussed everything from his workout routine to the freshman experience. He didn't hold anything back, either.
Tokoto had received a boost in playing time during the six-game period McDonald was unavailable (suspension and injury). He was averaging 12.8 minutes a game in McDonald's absence and playing his best ball of the season.
After McDonald returned to the court, Tokoto's minutes were reduced to just 4.6 over the final 16 games.
That "hurt" Tokoto. He didn't understand what he did wrong. Now he knows.
He was a freshman.
The Tar Heels have to be in a pretty dire situation for Roy Williams to allow a heavy dose of minutes to go to a freshman. Especially when said freshman is in the mix with three upperclassmen and a star sophomore.
He understands that now, and he is working his butt of to become a more efficient player.
Tokoto arrives early to the workouts to get in some time with the ball machine, hoping to hone his jump-shooting skills. When he's done there, he works with Hubert Davis on his off-the-dribble shooting.
He also has a bet with strength and conditioning coach Jonas Sahratian to weigh in at 210 by the end of the second summer session.
As Tokoto becomes a focal point on the team, we are seeing a young man with a great head on his shoulders. He's articulate, he's willing to be open with the media, he doesn't curl up in front of the camera and his work ethic is what you hope for from a D-I basketball player.
J.P. Tokoto isn't a superstar on the court—yet—but he certainly sounds like one from the podium.
That's a good start in my book.