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Dayton’s Toppin tops awards with Wooden honor

Dayton star forward Obi Toppin received the topper for his collection of postseason awards when he was named the winner of the John R. Wooden Award as the nation’s most outstanding player on Tuesday.

Toppin previously won the Naismith and Associated Press player of the year awards in addition to becoming Dayton’s fist consensus All-American.

Toppin, a sophomore, won the Wooden Award over Iowa junior center Luka Garza. The other finalists were Kansas senior center Udoka Azubuike, Marquette senior guard Markus Howard, and Seton Hall senior guard Myles Powell.

The 6-foot-9 Toppin went from a high school senior waiting for his first Division I scholarship offer to being the best player in the nation. He delivered 107 dunks this season.

“I never changed what I did,” Toppin said Tuesday on ESPN while reflecting on his journey. “I always got in the gym and worked on my craft and got shots up.”

He averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds while leading Dayton to a school-best 29-2 record and a final No. 3 ranking. The Flyers were projected to receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament before the event was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“I definitely feel like our team could have made it to the national championship game just because of what we are able to do this season and the amount of skills we had on the team,” Toppin said on ESPN. “Everybody was bought in to what the coaches were asking and we were dominating every single game. We would have definitely been in the NCAA championship game.”

Prior to learning he was the Wooden winner, Toppin was named winner of the Karl Malone Award (best power forward) earlier Tuesday.

“I genuinely respect Obi Toppin and the work he has put in to achieve the results we all saw this season,” Malone said in a press release. “I enjoy watching college basketball because the athletes give their all and take no possessions off — Obi is a perfect example of that. With his work ethic and athleticism, I’m excited to see him continue to further his game.”

Toppin is projected to be the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft, according to the latest mock draft by nbadraft.net.

Garza, the Wooden runner-up, averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds. Howard led the nation with a 27.8 scoring average, Powell averaged 21 points, and Azubuike averaged 13.7 points and 10.5 rebounds.

–Field Level Media

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