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UNC's J.P. Tokoto endures long wait before being selected 58th overall in NBA draft

J.P. Tokoto, seen here dunking during an open NCAA tournament practice, had to wait longer than he might have expected to hear his name called in the NBA draft.
J.P. Tokoto, seen here dunking during an open NCAA tournament practice, had to wait longer than he might have expected to hear his name called in the NBA draft. Robert Willett -- rwillett@newsobserver.com

It was a long, long, long wait for J.P. Tokoto, but the Philadelphia 76ers selected him at last on Thursday night with the 58th overall pick in the NBA draft. After watching his window to be selected grow narrower and narrower, Tokoto came off the board with the third-to-last pick in the draft.

It had to be a tense, difficult wait for Tokoto, who along with members of his family attended the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Luke Winn, a college basketball reporter for Sports Illustrated, wrote that Tokoto was the last player in the building who was waiting to be picked.

Tokoto's decision to leave UNC after his junior season was met with skepticism -- I recently wrote a story about his decision and his journey leading into the draft -- but he played well at the NBA Combine and seemed to have created positive momentum entering the draft. Most projections predicted that Tokoto would be picked somewhere in the middle of the second round.

But the middle of the second round came and went with Tokoto still available. With 10 picks left, he was still on the board. With five picks remaining, he was still available. And then, finally, the 76ers drafted him, ending Tokoto's long wait.

Tokoto became the 108th UNC player to be selected in the NBA draft, and the 11th to be picked in the second round. He's the first UNC player to be selected in the second round since Danny Green in 2009. Roy Williams has now coached 19 NBA draft picks during his head coaching tenure at UNC.

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