On Thursday afternoon, before another evening of NC Pro-Am ball, I made my weekly haircut visit to Midway Barber shop in Carrboro, NC, which is only a few blocks from UNC’s campus. Former UNC power forward, Byron Sanders was seated next to me as we both waited for our turn in the barber’s chair. I knew that my barber—a lifelong Tarheel fan—would be happy to know that I’d be checking out incoming UNC freshman high-flyer, J.P. Tokoto. Some folks, including my barber, have already compared the kid to another unbelievable, legendary Tarheel dunker, VinceCarter. I’d agree that the two share the same athletic ability, but Carter’s lift-off was less majestic. When Tokoto jumps, it looks like he’s climbing while in mid-air and adjusting his attack in stages, rather than simply elevating. Depending on what type of dunk he does, he stays in flight with an almost infinite amount of time to shift, double-pump, twist, or spin before throwing the ball down.
During his years at UNC, Harrison Barnes was given the nickname, “Black Falcon”, but now it seems more appropriate to honor Tokoto with a nickname befitting of a creature that glides through the air. We’ll see what sort of clever names the UNC students come up with during the basketball season.
Hopefully it’ll be better than “Black Frenchie”, which is what my barber calls J.P. Tokoto, who’s named after his grandfather,--former Cameroonian soccer player Jean-Pierre Tokoto. Like many Tarheel fans who were wildly curious about who in the world would come in and fill a roster troubled by the loss of four pivotal players, my barber had already familiarized himself with UNC’s 2012-2013 recruiting class. Tokoto was high on his radar. Barbers are notorious for telling tall tales, and on that Thursday afternoon mine tried to convince me that he once saw Vince Carter do a double-between-the-legs dunk. That probably never happened, but there’s nothing that suggests that Tokoto won’t pull it off sometime soon, maybe even at NC Pro-Am.