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How Obi Toppin Went From 0 College Offers to NBA Lottery Pick
AP Photo/Aaron Doster, File

The NBA Draft‘s most coveted prospects are guys who can barely buy lottery tickets.

Players over 20 make teams more hesitant. But 22? Now, we’re talking a big risk.

One Obadiah Toppin is a late bloomer. The 22-year-old is in the upper-age bracket by draft standards, but he’s someone who’s ready to hit the ground running as soon as his name is called.

The Naismith Trophy Award winner exploded onto the national scene last year. A few years earlier, he couldn’t find a Division I offer.

Obi Toppin High School

If you didn’t know who Obi Toppin was coming out of high school in 2017, you weren’t the only one.

A Brooklyn native, Toppin’s family moved to Melbourne, Florida before his underclassmen years. He attended Heritage High School in Palm Bay as a freshman and later transferred to Melbourne Central Catholic High School for his sophomore season.

His family relocated to Ossining, New York when he was a junior, where he enrolled at Ossining High School. Toppin stood 6-foot-2 at the time. In his senior season, his sole year on varsity, he grew to 6-foot-5 and averaged 20.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals to lead the team to a conference title.

Toppin’s strong senior campaign didn’t attract many suitors. He was planning on attending a junior college, but opted to attend Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore, Maryland for an additional year of development.

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At the Baltimore prep school, Toppin’s game and stature grew. He averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds, and four assists while sprouting up to 6-foot-9. Colleges began to take notice, and he chose to play for head coach Anthony Grant at the University of Dayton over Rhode Island, Georgetown, Georgia, Texas A&M, Minnesota, and Texas Tech.

Dayton’s Obi Toppin

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The power forward sat out his first year on campus due to academic eligibility issues. Another year of practice served him well.

Toppin averaged 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as a redshirt freshman. The Dayton Flyers finished the season 21-12, and Toppin was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and to the First-Team All-Atlantic 10.

The 2019-20 season was his coming out party. Dayton’s best player, Toppin averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1 steal, and 1.2 blocks in 31 games while the Flyers rose through the Associated Press rankings as one of the best teams in college basketball.

Toppin’s electrifying dunks circulated the public from social media to highlights on ESPN and CBS.

With a 29-2 (18-0 A-10) record before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak, the Ohio squad would’ve been a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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The hopes for a national championship weren’t able to be realized. Toppin’s accomplishments were recognized nonetheless:

— National Player of the Year
— Consensus First-Team All-American
— Karl Malone Award
— First-Team All-Atlantic 10

The All-America basketball player declared for the NBA Draft in March 2020. He left Dayton with 1,096 career points and a school-record 190 dunks.

Obi Toppin NBA Draft Stock

Toppin’s breakout season propelled him near the top of the first round in mock drafts. He’s a projected top-10 pick, however, some outlets have him at the tail end of the lottery.

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The Dayton star’s biggest asset is that he can be effective right off the bat. He exemplifies the modern NBA big man, possessing strong finishing ability and explosive athleticism. He has a nice outside shot, too. He recorded a 39 percent 3-point field goal percentage during his redshirt sophomore season.

Toppin is the most NBA-ready player in the class. The quick turnaround from the draft on November 18 to opening night on December 22 makes that more valuable than ever.

READ MORE: LaMelo Ball Trending Toward No. 1 Pick of 2020 NBA Draft

Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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