Obi Toppin

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Dayton’s Obi Toppin declares for 2020 NBA draft

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Obi Toppin is declaring for the NBA draft.

Taking college basketball by storm all season, the Dayton forward announced his decision to turn pro on Wednesday. Toppin went from modest contributor with all-conference potential to a probable lottery pick during the 2019-20 season. The redshirt sophomore was one of the nation’s biggest stories this season.

The 6-foot-9 Toppin put up 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Also a menace on the defensive end (1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game), Toppin was one of the nation’s premier two-way players. Perhaps most importantly, Toppin was the leader of one of the best teams in the country.

Dayton went from preseason afterthought to instant contender with a notable start this season at the Maui Invitational. From there, the Flyers only lost one more time all season. Dayton rolled through Atlantic 10 conference play with Toppin leading the charge. Dayton was expected to be a No. 1 seed in the 2020 NCAA tournament had the event gone on as planned.

It led to Toppin sweeping virtually every major award in college hoops. He was the only unanimous AP All-American. Toppin also won CBT’s Player of the Year and AP Player of the Year as well.

As for the NBA draft, Obi Toppin is a potential top-ten pick. Although Toppin turned 22 earlier this month, he still has plenty of intriguing tools for the next level. Toppin is the kind of bouncy offensive threat who can hunt lobs at the rim and finish with authority. Defensively, Toppin’s ability to switch and guard all five opposing spots was a huge reason the Flyers carried a top-40 defense.

Those are some of the many reasons Toppin sits at No. 4 in the latest CBT NBA mock draft.

Dayton’s Obi Toppin, Anthony Grant win AP’s Player, Coach of the Year

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Obi Toppin and Anthony Grant spent the season transforming Dayton from an unranked team that wasn’t even picked to win its conference into one of the nation’s best, complete with the most wins in program history.

The pair behind the Flyers’ remarkable rise claimed The Associated Press’ top individual honors: Toppin is the men’s college basketball player of the year and Grant is the coach of the year.

“Our team is very appreciative of what we accomplished,” Toppin told the AP, “just because we made history at our school.”

Indeed. Dayton (29-2) went from being picked to finish third in the Atlantic 10 to No. 3 in the final Top 25 poll, matching the program’s best poll finish, first accomplished in 1956. The Flyers went unbeaten in league play and in road games, leaving them positioned to claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament that was canceled amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

“In the 31 games that we played, our guys did a heck of a job of playing consistent and taking advantage of the opportunities that were in front of us,” Grant said. “What we did accomplish in the shortened season is something I think that hopefully will be remembered.”

RELATED: NBC Sports All-American Teams

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Toppin followed his unanimous selection to the AP All-America first team by appearing on 34 of 65 ballots from Top 25 voters, who submitted ballots after the cancellation of the NCAA tournament.

Iowa junior Luka Garza was second in the balloting, earning 24 votes after averaging 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Hawkeyes. Fellow All-Americans Markus Howard of Marquette, Payton Pritchard of Oregon and Udoka Azubuike of Kansas split the remaining votes.

It wasn’t that long ago that Toppin was a 6-foot-2 high school junior who had never dunked in a game and then a senior lacking any Division I scholarship offers, sending him to prep school before ending up at Dayton. But he has blossomed as a redshirt sophomore into an efficient scorer who made regular appearances on TV highlight reels with high-flying dunks.

He averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 63% from the field and 39% from 3-point range, leading a season-long surge by the Flyers that rallied a community shaken by devastating tornadoes and a deadly mass shooting in the past year.

Dayton grabbed national attention early, taking Kansas to overtime in a loss in the Maui Invitational championship game. The Flyers’ only other loss came in December on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime against Colorado. They had won 20 straight games when the season ended.

“Honestly, if you had asked me, I swear we could’ve won a national championship, and our team was so ready to play in the tournament,” Toppin said. “We were so locked in. But because of this virus, things happened. It’s just going to be a what-if for the rest of our lives, but it’s something we’re going to have to live with.”

Grant earned 30 of 65 votes to claim the AP coaching award in his third season at his alma mater. Baylor’s Scott Drew, who guided the Bears to a 23-game winning streak and five weeks at No. 1, was second with 13 votes.

San Diego State’s Brian Dutcher was third with 12 votes after leading the Aztecs to a 26-0 start, followed by Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, who earned six votes after leading the Seminoles to their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.

Grant, a former Dayton player, said he has some of the same what-if thoughts as his star player. Still, he said he prefers to be grateful for “a special group” that deftly handled the added attention and pressure that came quickly amid the Flyers’ steady climb up the rankings.

“I thought our guys’ ability to stay focused on the things they could control really told the story of our year,” Grant said. “I think from the beginning of the year to the end, there was a consistency that our guys played with, which as a coach makes me really proud.”

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PLAYER OF THE YEAR VOTING

Obi Toppin, Dayton (34)

Luka Garza, Iowa (24)

Markus Howard, Marquette (3)

Udoka Azubuike, Kansas (2)

Payton Pritchard, Oregon (2)

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COACH OF THE YEAR VOTING

Anthony Grant, Dayton (30)

Scott Drew, Baylor (13)

Brian Dutcher, San Diego State (12)

Leonard Hamilton, Florida State (6)

Mark Few, Gonzaga (2)

Steve Pikiell, Rutgers (1)

Bill Self, Kansas (1)

Dayton’s Obi Toppin leaves UMass win with sprained ankle

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Obi Toppin left Dayton’s win over UMass on Saturday with an apparent sprained ankle.

The Flyers’ leading scorer hurt the ankle while Dayton led UMass by 25. Toppin returned to the game several minutes later. Eventually, the redshirt sophomore forward was pulled and watched the final minutes of the win with a protective boot on his right foot.

Toppin finished with 16 points as Dayton improved to 3-0 in A-10 league play. Dayton head coach Anthony Grant addressed Toppin’s injury to the media following the win.

“A sprained ankle is the indication right now,” Grant said after the game. “I think the next 24 hours will tell us more in terms of how it reacts.”

“It was good to see him able to walk on his own power back to the bench,” Grant continued.

Obi Toppin has become one of college basketball’s best stories during the 2019-20 season. Seemingly out of nowhere, Toppin helped revive Dayton into a top-25 program. Toppin’s strong play also put his name firmly on the NBA Draft radar. Putting up 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, Toppin is a major asset on both ends of the floor for the Flyers.

Dayton has an important game against VCU coming up in A-10 play this week. It’s the start of a critical stretch for the Flyers in the Atlantic 10 schedule. The next five games see Dayton play five of the conference’s top contenders.

It’ll be interesting to see how Toppin’s status potentially changes during the week. As Grant indicated postgame, the next 24 hours or so will tell us a lot about Toppin’s future.

If Dayton has to play without its leading scorer, they still have a strong NCAA tournament profile as the No. 15 team in the country. But the Flyers still need to be cautious bringing back Toppin. This could be a defining stretch of conference play that could help determine the regular-season title.