After seizing the Associated Press and the Naismith Player of the Year Award, Dayton Flyers’ Obi Toppin won John R. Wooden Award for the best NCAA player of this season.
Toppin had a rival in Iowa Hawkeyes’ Luka Garza, but the award committee didn’t have too many doubts when they needed to pick the winner.
Dayton’s season was fantastic in all aspects, and the main reason for that was Toppin. The strong forward averaged 20 points, 7.5 boards, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks with 63% from the field in each game. The Flyers’ reached the top of their Atlantic 10 division without a single loss, winning 18 straight games, and that is the first perfect record since 2006 once George Washington went 16-0. Dayton was the No.3 in the final AP Poll with a 29-2 record, which is the all-time best when it comes to the number of wins in one season.
Toppin didn’t allow anyone to put him ahead of the team, saying that it wouldn’t be possible for him to reach these heights without the help of his teammates. The bond and the chemistry developed in the locker room was bringing the results on the floor.
“We had a really great bond this year with the teammates and the coaches, and it showed on the court, everybody was bought into what the coaches were asking us to do, and that is why we were so successful this year,” he said.
Toppin was the only D-1 player who averaged at least 20 points and 60% FG, and posted the school’s single-season record with the number of dunks -107. It is the second-most in the NCAA over the last 10 seasons.
The biggest strength of this guy is his versatility on both sides of the court, and that mostly comes from his high basketball IQ. Many believe that mentally he is much more advanced than most of the other college players, which will be of massive use for him once he appears in the NBA.
As for the upcoming NBA draft, Toppin will most definitely finish among the top 10 picks, but his place is still a puzzle for all the insiders and analysts. This draft doesn’t have too many game-changers, and the teams are going to pick the players who would be additions to their already formed squads. In all the draft mocks, the 22-year old is placed between No.2 and No.9.
The No.1 pick is probably going to be Anthony Edwards, who fits Golden State’s style of play. Toppin, meanwhile, can adapt to almost any style, and will no doubt have a big influence on the court regardless of the team where he ends up.
It is why nobody can foretell his draft place with certainty.
Toppin didn’t speak too much about NBA plans after receiving the award. However, he did mention the NCAA Tournament, and Flyers’ chances to win the title. According to the power forward, his team was definitely able to go all the way and to win the title. It would be the first one in Dayton’s history.
“I definitely feel like our team could’ve made it to the national championship game, just because of what we were so able to do this season and the amount of skills we had on the team,” he added.
There might be a chance to see that because the NCAA still didn’t give up on its tournament. Chances for that are slim, but they do exist. If that happens, Toppin and his Flyers are going to be very interesting to watch.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.