JP Tokoto on possibility of Marquette, getting advice from John Wall
Posted February 3, 2011 8:11 p.m. CT
By Paul Imig
MILWAUKEE -- JP Tokoto and his father, Trevor Trimble, were upset by a recent report that claimed the Menomonee Falls High School star forward had narrowed his list of potential colleges down to five.
In particular, Trimble took exception to the fact that some people now might believe that Marquette is not being strongly considered.
That is not the case, as Golden Eagles head coach Buzz Williams has made quite the impression on the 17-year-old recruit.
"Coach Buzz, he's an awesome guy. I love coach Buzz," Tokoto said as he began to chuckle. "He always says what he thinks and that's a positive because you don't want a coach telling you lies and just misleading you about anything. He says what's on his mind and he tells the truth.
"He's just a great guy. He seems like a great coach in practice. He's cool, he's calm and he's collected. He actually coaches his guys. He doesn't just yell at them, scream at them and tell them what they're doing wrong. He's positive. I love the way he coaches. I just love Coach as a guy."
It won't be until after the current high school basketball season that Tokoto and his family will put together a list of the final five-to-seven schools for consideration.
In the meantime, Tokoto has attended several Marquette home games this season, including the Jan. 29 win over Syracuse.
The "home vibe" that Marquette provides is just one part of what makes it an enticing possibility when making his decision.
"The pros definitely do stick out," Tokoto said. "It's close to home, it's a great program and they play in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. It's less than 20 minutes away from where I live at. It still feels like home even when I go down there to play open gym or just go watch practice or go watch a game."
Tokoto was born in Rockford, Ill. but moved to the Milwaukee area when he was 10 years old.
Marquette has plenty of competition in the recruitment of Tokoto. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams was in the first row to get another firsthand look at Tokoto during the Brandon Jennings Invitational on Jan. 22 in Milwaukee.
Those are the types of high-profile people who have become regulars at Tokoto's games. The reason these coaches continue to attend is simple; they want to coach Tokoto during his college basketball career.
"Just like every coach, they have a sales pitch," Tokoto said. "If they really want top players, they're going to tell them stuff that they probably want to hear and probably don't want to hear. That's what's great with coach Buzz Williams. He's straight-forward with his stuff."
Tokoto added that while all coaches talk with him about his game and how he's improved, he noted that both Roy Williams and Buzz Williams are "particularly family-oriented" and talk about non-basketball things as well.
The biggest factor in Tokoto's eventual decision is education, followed by history of the basketball program and then style of play.
"I realize I'm not going to be playing basketball for my whole entire life," Tokoto said. "Basketball is going to take me places I could never imagine, hopefully. I know there's going to come a time when I'm going to be too old or god forbid I get injured or something. I'd love to have my education to fall back on."
A factor that won't play a major role for Tokoto is whether recruits at a particular school typically leave early for the NBA.
"We don't set ourselves on, 'Which coach is going to get me to the NBA faster?' or anything like that," he said. "If I can go one-and-done, two-and-done, that's great. But if I have to stay a couple extra years, that's not a problem with me. I'm still getting my education. I'll have to go back to get it even if I do leave early."
Recently, Tokoto spoke on the phone with the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, John Wall. Wall played one season at Kentucky before exiting for the pros.
The conversation was set up by Trimble, who spoke with Wall during a recent Marquette game. Wall was in town to face the Milwaukee Bucks the next night.
"I was having a little problem with playing down to my competition's level for a game, wasn't playing as hard as I should have been, which I've fixed," Tokoto said. "(Wall and I) talked about always just bringing it because you never know who's watching. You never know if it's their first time watching or their last time watching. You've always got to bring your 'A' game no matter who you're playing.
"That was pretty inspirational," he said with a laugh.