Dayton’s Toppin wins Wooden Award over Garza

  • Covers college basketball
  • Joined in 2011
  • Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato

Dayton forward Obi Toppin completed a magical season as the winner of the 2020 John R. Wooden Award, the award’s committee announced on Tuesday. Toppin secured the award over Iowa star Luka Garza.

Last week, Toppin won both the Naismith and Associated Press national player of the year awards.

Toppin led Dayton to a 29-2 record during the 2019-2020 season, which ended abruptly prior to the NCAA tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic. A projected lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft, Toppin averaged 20.0 points per game, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, while connecting on nearly 70 percent of his shots inside the 3-point line. He also made 39 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

He’s projected to be the No. 9 pick in this summer’s NBA draft, per ESPN’s latest mock draft.

While Toppin put together one of the nation’s most impressive campaigns, he and Garza battled all year for national honors. Garza was averaging 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds when the NCAA canceled its postseason tournament. Iowa finished 11-9 and 20-11 overall during the Big Ten’s regular season.

Garza tweeted congratulations to Toppin for an “incredible season” after the announcement.

Toppin helped Dayton dominate the Atlantic 10. The Flyers became the first team to win the league without a loss (18-0) since George Washington went 16-0 in 2006.

Toppin also became one of the best stories in college basketball. After playing just one year of varsity basketball in high school, he was an academic redshirt in 2017-18. He won Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year honors in 2018-19 before exploding onto the national scene this season as a sophomore.

He commenced his Wooden Award campaign by recording 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in a 90-84 overtime loss to Kansas at the Maui Invitational in November.

Toppin is the seventh sophomore to win the award, and the first since Trey Burke in 2013.

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