It has been a banner year for the Dayton Flyers. The team went 29-2 this season, the best record in school history. Head coach Anthony Grant has won numerous Coach of the Year awards. However, the icing on the cake has been Obi Toppin, who has won the three most prestigious Player of the Year awards.
On Tuesday, Toppin was named the recipient of the Wooden Award. This added to a list that already included the Naismith Award and the AP Player of the Year accolade. He was also the only unanimous first-team All-American.
Player of the Year: Obi Toppin
Season In Review
Obi Toppin’s Dayton squad was not on most people’s radars to begin the season. They came in ranked seventh in the LWOS’ preseason mid-major rankings. However, after a strong showing in the Maui Invitational, the Flyers began to put the rest of the country on notice. By the end of the season, Dayton was ranked third nationally and poised for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Toppin was a big part of the team’s success this year. He returned to Dayton after testing the NBA waters at the end of last season. That decision looks pretty smart now. Toppin became the centerpiece of the Flyers. If you were watching a Dayton highlight, it was highly likely Toppin was involved. He became synonymous with monstrous dunks while showing off his athleticism.
Toppin finished the season averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He also shot 63.3 percent from the floor, averaging 7.9 makes on 12.5 attempts from the field. To top it all off, Obi Toppin also led the country in dunks with 107.
Reaping the Rewards
Obi Toppin’s recognitions began with earning the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award, the first Flyer to ever win it. That was just the beginning of the firsts though. He became the first Dayton player to be a consensus All-American, being voted to the first team.
The floodgates opened from there as the player of the year awards began to be announced. First came the AP Player of the Year award. Then, many other major sports publications followed suit with the same announcement. However, the most coveted two were saved for last.
On April 3rd, Toppin was named the recipient of the Naismith Trophy. Naturally, he was the first Dayton player to win this award. He is only the third winner from the Atlantic 10, with the last conference winner being Jameer Nelson for St. Joseph’s in 2004. He also became the tenth sophomore to ever be presented with the trophy.
The recognition culminated with Tuesday’s announcement of Toppin being named the Wooden Award recipient. The significance was the same as the Naismith Trophy, with Toppin being the first Flyer and first Atlantic 10 player since Nelson.
The organizations that present the Naismith Trophy and the Wooden Award both pointed to the same statistics that influenced their decisions. He was the only player this season who averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and shot at least 60 percent from the field. His 63.3 shooting percentage was fifth-best in the nation. And, of course, they also talked about his dunking ability.
It would be great to get two more seasons of Obi Toppin playing college basketball. However, he has already announced that he will be entering this year’s NBA Draft and staying for good. No one could blame him, as he could potentially be the top overall pick. However, he will certainly not be forgotten at the college level. Toppin may be the best player to ever play at Dayton to date. His numerous awards have etched him into the history of the game forever. There is only one debate left to settle: how far would Toppin have carried Dayton in the NCAA Tournament? That, however, is one we will never know the answer to.