How Dayton's Obi Toppin went from not receiving any Division I offers to winning the Naismith Trophy
The Flyers' Toppin flew under the radar when he was in high school, but put on a high-flying show this season
There were so many Obi Toppin dunks this season -- 107, to be exact. Nobody dunked more. Only one person has dunked more in a season in any of the past 10 years. He went between his legs. He windmilled. But my favorite dunk, of all the dunks, was a very simple, but extremely disrespectful, dunk that Toppin put on a George Washington player's head in what ended up being Dayton's final game.
Toppin caught the ball on the right block.
He had a freshman on his back.
He took one dribble. Then another. Then another. He put his left shoulder into the chest of a clearly overmatched opponent -- an opponent so clearly overmatched that the color commentator working the game, in real time, said "Somebody's got to help him." At that point, though, it was too late. At that point, though, Toppin was already too deep. So he rose, went higher than Jamison Battle, and dunked on him.
Take a look.
It's the first dunk in this sequence.
For my money, that's better than the windmills, better than the between-the-legs dunks, better than everything else because most dunks, like those dunks, are simply dunks you're doing when you're gifted athletically enough to do them. You're just putting on a show, not treating somebody like an inferior species. But what Toppin did to Battle -- who is a really nice player, by the way, somebody who averaged 11.8 points and 5.2 rebounds as a freshman this season -- was the type of thing a father does to a son, a big brother does to a little brother. It was one person showing another person he is no match.
Obi Toppin did that a lot this season.
And on Friday, he was recognized for it, once again, when it was announced that Obi Toppin is the winner of the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy, which recognizes the nation's most outstanding men's college basketball player. It's the latest trophy he'll add to a case already full of them. It's a remarkable achievement for anybody -- but especially for somebody who was a zero-star recruit in high school.
"My senior year, like, not one D-I school looked at me," Toppin explained during this season while leading Dayton to a 29-2 record featuring an 18-0 mark in the Atlantic 10.
On the surface, that might seem like an indictment of Division I coaches -- but there were actually two things working against Toppin: One, he had grade issues. Two, he was only 6-foot-4. So with no Division I offers, Toppin decided to enroll at Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore, where he posted big numbers and grew.
And grew some more.
By the time Toppin played his first game at Dayton, after a redshirt season in 2017-18, he was listed as a 6-9, 220-pound forward. He was very good as a redshirt freshman -- averaging 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds while earning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year honors. But the breakthrough season, the burst onto the national radar, came this season, when Toppin averaged 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 63.3 percent from the field and 39.0 percent from 3-point range. Dayton, because of him, would've been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if the coronavirus pandemic ravaging our country hadn't prevented a bracket from being completed. So this was a historically great season for a player and his team cut short.
Still, a legacy remains.
Toppin is the first Dayton player to ever win the Naismith Trophy and should soon become the first Flyer to ever be picked in the top five of the NBA Draft. And he really might've been the star who led Dayton to its first national title but, well, you know. So we'll never know. But, either way, man, what a story.
Obi Toppin left high school with zero DI offers.
He's leaving college as the Naismith Player of the Year.
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
The latest updates in the Pelicans rookie's dispute with Prime Sports Marketing
Terry won an NCAA championship with the Wildcats in 1997 and is a former conference Player...
Here are the top 15 graduate transfers to watch coming out of the 2020 recruiting cycle
The losses continue to mount for the Cougars, who have lost two of their top four scorers
Winning it all makes you a legend, but the road to get there normally takes well over a decade....
The school president said it will "no longer contract the Minneapolis Police Department"