North Carolina's Tokoto leaving early for NBA draft

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina says forward J.P. Tokoto will forgo his final season of eligibility to enter the NBA draft.

Coach Roy Williams said in a statement Thursday that Tokoto's decision comes with his blessing after ''multiple meetings since the end of the season.''

The 21-year-old Tokoto averaged 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds during his three-year career with the Tar Heels.

As a junior, he averaged 8.3 points and was second on the team with 163 assists while making the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-defensive team.

The rest of North Carolina's nucleus is expected back next season. The Tar Heels finished 26-12, reached the ACC championship game and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual national runner-up Wisconsin.

Yahoo Sports was first to report his decision.

''We support J.P. in his decision and will continue to assist him as he pursues his dream of playing professional basketball,'' Williams said. ''J.P. has made significant contributions to our program.''

Tokoto told Yahoo that ''I know I'm not a first-round pick'' but is working on his jump shot ahead of the June 25 draft. The NBA's deadline to declare for the draft is April 26.

''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 the website. ''I know I can be so much more, but I'm not sure that I'm pushed to be that much more (in college).''

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