Tokoto, Johnson know they must be ready

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- J.P. Tokoto chose North Carolina for the tradition, coach Roy Williams and to win a national title, but another big reason Tokoto was excited about being a Tar Heel was to have the chance to learn from swingman Harrison Barnes.

That won’t happen now.

Barnes, Kendall Marshall and John Henson all declared for the NBA draft recently, and for Tokoto that meant just one thing.

“We’re going to have to be ready to step right in and produce,” said Tokoto, a bouncy forward at Menomonee Falls (Menomonee Falls, Wis.). “We’ve still got plenty of talent, but I think we may get called on a little earlier than most people thought we would.”

Brice Johnson feels the same way, and he said he’s ready for whatever the staff needs him to do.

Johnson and Tokoto are teaming up this weekend at the Jordan Brand Classic for the East. Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa) point guard Marcus Paige was also supposed to play in the game, but he had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot Tuesday and couldn’t travel. Dwyer (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) forward Joel James rounds out the Heels’ 2012 class.

“We’re all going to need to be ready sooner,” said Johnson, a forward at Edisto (Cordova, S.C.). “That’s fine with me, though. Bring it on. I’m ready. I’ve just got to gain weight.”

He’s contemplated giving up track, because the little weight he does gain ends up falling right off with training.

But when you’re the reigning state champion in the high jump, long jump and triple, it’s hard to walk away.

“I’m about 210 now, but I’m going to get it up,” Johnson said. “I eat a large pizza and a half of another large in one sitting, so I’m going hard at it. Either way we’re going to be ready. All of us. I don’t want fans to drop their standards. We will show people next year. We’re going to be a force.”

For more on the Jordan Brand Classic this weekend, check out the coverage at http://espn.com/high-school/.