Wauwatosa – For the past two years, Roy Williams used his version of the full-court press to persuade JP Tokoto to attend the University of North Carolina. Williams’ personal touch, along with Tokoto’s recent visit to Chapel Hill, made it crystal clear to the Menomonee Falls basketball star. He wants to be with the Tar Heels.
“I have committed to coach Roy Williams and the University of North Carolina,” Tokoto told a gathering of about 200 people Thursday night at Dave & Buster’s restaurant on Mayfair Road. The event included his basketball teammates, members of his family, friends and members of the media. The atmosphere at the restaurant was quite festive and many in attendance cheered when he made the announcement.
Tokoto said that Wisconsin was his second choice, but he said the trip to Carolina two weeks ago sealed the deal.
“I just loved North Carolina, the coaching staff, the way they treated people down there with respect,” Tokoto said. “They love the players down there. When I got down there, it felt like home. I felt like I belonged.”
A light-hearted moment during the event came when Tokoto admitted he had not given the official word to Williams before the event started. Tokoto then called Williams to tell him of his decision. When asked what Williams had said, Tokoto replied. “He told me to call him back tomorrow.”
Tokoto is the second junior to commit to North Carolina for 2012. Marcus Paige, a 6-0, 155-pound guard from Marion, Iowa, committed to North Carolina in January. Tokoto said he has not met Paige, but will get in contact with his future teammate soon.
The decision marks the end of a two-year run for Tokoto that saw some of the nation’s best basket ball coaches come to watch him play.
“The recruiting process was crazy, but my family and friends have enjoyed the process,” Tokoto said. “We’ve were able to meet so many great people and so many great coaches. We saw many gorgeous campuses but it came down to one.”
Among those in attendance at the announcement were Falls coach Ben Siebert and several members of the Falls basketball staff and school administrators.
"We’re really proud of him, the whole last three years has been a wild ride,” Falls athletic director David Petroff said. “It’s been a source of civic pride for Menomonee Falls”
While Tokoto has finalized his college plans, his future at Menomonee Falls has been a subject of debate. Trevor Trimble, Tokoto’s father, said his son has not ruled out returning for his senior season at Falls, but will consider other options.
“It makes me sad that he may not come be back, but I’m also happy for him because he will do what is best for him,” junior teammate CJ Malone said. “I’m happy for him and I want my boy to succeed and not fail.”
Now Tokoto and his teammates will concentrate on the state basketball tournament, which starts Saturday. The Indians (11-11) will face host Waukesha South at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.