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Tokoto leaves Falls with records and peace

Earns third NOW All-Suburban nod

April 2, 2012

Menomonee Falls - Four-time NOW Newspapers All-Suburban basketball team selection J.P. Tokoto is leaving Menomonee Falls for North Carolina this summer with no regrets.

In fact, before he graduates and leaves, the NOW All-Suburban basketball selection is going to take his prodigious leaping skills and give the high jump a try for the Indians track team in the outdoor season.

He still has on hand his ready laugh, his gracious, easygoing style and a sense of generosity that allows him to keep a smile on his face at all times and which allows him to pose for pictures with admiring little munchkins and their parents even after a tough loss.

This, even though, despite his best efforts, the Falls basketball team was an uneven 25-22 the past two years, and he had to deal with a change of coaches his senior year.

Toss into the mix that his best chance at a state tournament berth two years ago came up a halfcourt shot at the buzzer short, and don't forget that because he is J.P. Tokoto, one of the most highly regarded basketball recruits in the nation, he has to live his life in a fishbowl with endless numbers of people texting, calling and emailing him, wanting just a small piece of his time.

Not to mention everyone on the blogosphere critiquing his every move.

'You still have to be nice'

No, at this moment in time, even with all that hanging over his head, Tokoto is a man at relative peace with himself.

"Overall, my four years in Menomonee Falls have been an amazing experience," he said. "From moving up onto the varsity team when I was a freshman, I was always playing with older guys, and I really believed that it helped me in a lot of ways.

"I saw what they did and how they handled themselves and I took a lot of keys from them. Being humble, being nice to everyone. It all paid off in the long run. It just goes with who I am. There's always been an excitement around me. I've been a highly-recruited player for awhile now and win or lose, you still have to be nice, because these are the people who are supporting you.

"The least you can do is thank them for their support. So signing a picture, giving someone a hug or a handshake, that really is the least I can do."

On the pure basketball side, he leaves with more records than anyone can count, having blown by the great Brad Christianson's all-time Menomonee Falls scoring mark earlier this season and taking home with him many other marks to boot.

Tokoto in all his glory is a young man who wants to make people happy. The Falls School District had to famously set up special ticket rules for home boys basketball games last season in order to deal with the demand that frequently caused the gym to fill up before halftime of the junior varsity game and which brought into play attendance by the likes of high-profile coaches like Tom Crean, Bo Ryan and Roy Williams (of North Carolina).

He made his announcement that he would accept a scholarship offer from North Carolina in a party at Dave 'n Buster's in March 2011 but then had his official signing ceremony last fall at Riverside School in the Falls where his younger siblings attend classes. He and his teammates even read books to the youngsters that day.

"I was asked how I wanted to do things," he said. "These were largely my ideas. Before we got on with the signing and all that, I wanted my teammates and friends to have some fun so that's why we went to Dave 'n Buster's, but when it came to the signing, I wanted to do a little something for the community so that's why we showed up at an elementary school.

"I wanted people involved and I like the attention."

Mom deals with bloggers

Clearly not all of it.

He largely steered clear of the often ill-informed and politicized blogosphere, letting his mother Laurence Trimble sort through it warts and all, as people took after him for his number of shots, or his style of play or the fact that the team wasn't winning enough with him on it.

"Mom told me a little about it," he said, "but in my head, it was always about the team and getting better. It wasn't about me. I'm usually pretty strong and can control my emotions, but sometimes, some of the things I heard did get to me a little and I would bring it to practice, but not too much, because I didn't want to saddle my team with it. The days that I did though, I went 150 percent."

Shot at playing soon for Heels

And he will try to carry that energy forward as he prepares for the next phase of his life. Although Carolina ended up its season short of the NCAA Final Four, Tokoto is looking forward to helping the Tar Heels make another run at the promised land soon.

Three prominent Tar Heel players just declared for the NBA draft, so Tokoto knows that if he puts in the effort that a shot at playing time right away is a definite possibility.

But it will take real effort.

"It's all about the amount of work you put in," he said. "Just because God gives you talent, doesn't mean success will automatically be given to you. You have to work at it. In my mind, I was always blessed with good teammates. Again, it's been an amazing experience.

"I thank everyone who came out to support me and even those who jeered me. I thank you for getting me going even faster (laughs)."

And that unto itself will be missed.

"He's probably the most incredible athlete I'll see in my lifetime," said Germantown coach Steve Showalter, who knows a little about talent himself. "We've enjoyed every battle with him. Just an amazing athlete and a good kid who will do great things in the future."

Ending with honors

J.P. Tokoto, North Carolina recruit, leaves on good note.

HONORS

Greater Metro Conference Player of the Year

Three-time NOW All-Suburban selection (POY in 2010)

Unanimous WBCA Division I All-State and AP first-team All-State

American Family Insurance National High School Slam Dunk and 3-point shot contestant

MENOMONEE FALLS RECORDS

Points scored in a career: 1,736.

Point scored in a season: 591 (2011-12)

Points scored in a game: 48 (vs Catholic Memorial 2011-2012)

Total rebounds in a career: 1,114

Total rebounds in a season: 276 (2011-12)

Defensive rebounds in a season: 200 (2011-12)

Defensive rebounds in a game: 17 (vs. Germantown 2009-10))

Offensive rebounds in a season: 98 (tied 2009-10)

Most field goals in a game: 19 (vs. Catholic Memorial 2011-12)

Most free throws in a game: 15 (tied vs. Germantown 2011-12)

Steals in a career: 216

Games played in a career: 92

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