North Carolina Basketball: J.P. Tokoto Key to Tar Heels' Success

By Gregory Philson
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina is one of the hardest teams in the country to figure out this season, but one player on the Tar Heels is starting to show he can be another go-to scorer when star point guard Marcus Paige is either having an off-night or needs help.

Sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto is slowly becoming a force this season after contributing 12 points and 10 rebounds during the Tar Heels’ upset victory over Michigan State this week. Tokoto has definitely been a player to watch this season after seeing a major jump in his minutes from about nine last season to nearly 28 this season. Tokoto has an awkward offensive game, but is showing it is not necessarily how he looks on offense, but what he can do. Tokoto is averaging 9.9 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. In three of his last five games, he has scored at least 10 points and was the only bright spot for UNC in the loss to the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Tokoto registered a team-high 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Tokoto is key for North Carolina because he is taking over as the athletic wing North Carolina needs with James Michael McAdoo‘s recent struggles. Tokoto does not need to be a big-time scorer, but he does need to be a threat. He is 18-of-34 (53 percent) from the field in in his last four games and has only committed a combined five turnovers in that stretch. The limited amount of turnovers is a good sign because Tokoto can look out of control at times. Somehow, he manages to stay in possession of the ball. Tokoto is surprisingly averaging 2.4 assists per game.

Tokoto does not need to be the second option for the Heels to be a successful team in the ACC this season, but he has to continue to stay within himself and play control-basketball. If he can be a consistent wing, UNC could make a serious run in the conference.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.


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