Obi Toppin. If you're a college basketball fan get ready to read, hear about and say this name a lot more come March. The Dayton forward has surged onto the scene and is now a candidate to take home national player-of-the-year honors at the end of the season.
Labeled as "one of the best players in the country" by Andy Katz, Toppin flew under the radar as a recruit. On the Jan. 7 episode of the March Madness 365 podcast, the sophomore told Katz how he was only pursued by a handful of schools, such as Fordham, Georgetown, Georgia and Rhode Island but fell in love with Dayton immediately. His interview begins around the 31:00 mark of the podcast. This week's pod also features an interview with FOX's Steve Lavin and Seton Hall guard Myles Powell.
"When I came on campus I felt all the love and as soon as I got there I told coach I wanted to come here and I signed on my visit," Toppin said.
Dayton's 6'9" forward is leading the Flyers to a historic season — 13-2 record, atop the Atlantic 10 standings and ranked No. 15 nationally.
Toppin has become Dayton's go-to this season, leading the Flyers to victories over St. Joseph's, Georgia, Saint Mary's and Virginia Tech. He averages 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and shoots better than 63 percent from the field. He's projected to be a future NBA Draft lottery pick.
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A self-described "athletic big," Toppin broke out onto the scene during this season's Maui Invitational in November. The sophomore forward scored 25 points against Georgia, 24 points and 8 boards against Virginia Tech and was just one rebound away from notching a double-double against No. 3 Kansas with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
More @SportsCenter #SCtop10 love for @otoppin1 last night!#JoinTheFight pic.twitter.com/D21m8F3GXz— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) January 6, 2020
"When I go into every game my teammates and my coaches put me in great positions to be successful as I do the same for them," Toppin said. "I trust my players while I'm on the court with them and they trust me. Every time we're on the court we all know what our jobs are to get a win. They're the reason why I am who I am today."
Dayton's two losses were decided in overtime and were lost by a combined eight points.
3-time A-10 𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗬𝗘𝗥 𝗢𝗙 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗪𝗘𝗘𝗞 👉 @otoppin1 with authority!!— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) January 6, 2020
Toppin is fifth in the country in total field goals made, in the top 10 in player efficiency and offensive win shares, and a three-time A10 player of the week.
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"I just know our team is going to work every single day to become better and better, just because we know when we get to the tournament we're going to be a problem. It's going to be a surprise to everybody when we get there and we can't wait for that," Toppin said.
Dayton will continue its trek through the Atlantic 10 this week when UMass comes to town on Saturday, Jan. 11.
The March Madness 365 podcast is a weekly podcast covering all things college basketball. You can listen and subscribe to the podcast here, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.