Knicks take former Flyer Toppin with 8th pick

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Dayton’s Obi Toppin (1) dunks over George Washington’s Jameer Nelson Jr (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Tribble)

BRISTOL, Conn.  – University of Dayton forward Obi Toppin became the first lottery pick in Flyer basketball history tonight when he was selected by the New York Knicks as the eighth selection of the 2020 NBA draft.

Toppin, a New York native, is Dayton’s fourth-ever first-round pick and the second Flyer to be drafted in the last three years.

UD Hall of Famers Chuck Grigsby, Don May, Jim Palmer, and Sedric Toney have all played for the Knicks.  May was a member of the Knicks’ 1970 NBA championship team.

Toppin’s selection, coupled with the New Orleans Saints drafting Adam Trautman last spring, makes this year the first year that UD has ever had student-athletes taken in the first three rounds of both the NBA and the NFL drafts

The consensus college basketball player of the year, Toppin was named the national player of the year by five of the six most major awards including two most-sought-after national player of the year awards – the Citizen Naismith Trophy and the John R. Wooden Award.

Toppin’s journey has been nothing short of incredible.  As a high school senior in 2016, Toppin had no Division I scholarship offers.  Now, after two years as a college player and as he heads to the NBA, he is an NBA lottery pick and the most decorated player in Dayton basketball history.

A 6-foot-9 forward, Toppin was the University of Dayton’s first consensus All-American, having been picked a First Team All-American by The Sporting News, Associated Press, USBWA and NABC.

He was named the College Basketball Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club (Naismith Trophy), the USBWA (Oscar Robertson Award), the Associated Press, the NABC, The Athletic, USA Today, CBSsports.com, NBC Sports, Fox Sports and Rivals.  Sports Illustrated announced its Top 50 College Basketball Players for the 2019-20 season in March, and Toppin’s uniform number matched his ranking – “1.” 

He finished the year averaging 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, and shooting .633 (245-387) from the field, .390 (32-82) from 3-pt. range and .702 (99-141) from the line.  According to Synergy Basketball, Toppin led the nation with 1.20 points per possession while he was on the floor.

He was the only player in the country who averaged 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and shot over 60% from the field.  He also had the best field goal percentage in the last five years of any Division I player who averaged 20 points a game.

Toppin led the A-10 in FG% (.633, 245-387), and was second in scoring (20.0).  He was the only player in the conference to be listed in both the top ten in FG% and 3-pt. FG% (8th, .390, 32-82).  He was also fifth nationally in field goal percentage, even though he took more than double the number of three-pointers the rest of the top 10 combined.

The athletic high Flyer also led the nation in dunks (107).  His last five college field goals were dunks (his first two college field goals as a freshman were also slams).  Toppin ended his college career as UD’s career field goal percentage record holder by the slimmest of margins.  Toppin’s .6473 (446-689) edged Sean Finn’s previous record of .6469 (414-640).

Toppin lifted the Flyers to a 29-2 record, setting the most wins in school history even though UD did not get a chance to play any post-season games.  Dayton ended the year ranked third in the nation and will carry a 20-game win streak into 2020-21, the longest active streak in Division I.  UD won its third A-10 regular season championship in the last five years, but went undefeated (18-0) for the first time in 2019-20.

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