North Carolina Tar Heels junior J.P. Tokoto will enter the 2015 NBA draft, he told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday.
Tokoto, an All-ACC first-team defender for the Tar Heels, forgoes his final year of college eligibility with a clear knowledge of his standing among league executives.
Tokoto, 21, won’t initially sign with an agent, he said, which would give him the freedom to withdraw from the June draft prior to the April 26 early entry deadline. Even so, Tokoto’s intentions are to play in the NBA next season.
“Going in, I know I’m not a first-round pick,” Tokoto told Yahoo Sports. “I know my jumper needs work, and I’m putting in that work now – and will keep doing it. My jumper is something that has me as a second-round pick right now, but I have a mindset of work to improve the form and range of my shot.”
Tokoto, who is 6-foot-6, is considered to be solidly in the second round of the draft, several NBA executives told Yahoo Sports.
DraftExpress.com has Tokoto rated 26th among possible prospects in the 2016 mock draft and called him “one of the best athletes in college basketball.”
“I know that my athleticism, my ability to finish in the open floor and especially my defense, getting deflections, making it hard on offensive players, those are things that [teams] will see right away from me,” Tokoto said.
He could’ve returned to Carolina to finish his career as a three-year starter, but said he believes his best chance for developing his game will come from immersing himself in a professional environment.
“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 in school and being that player that fit into the mold of my first three years [at Carolina].”