Dayton basketball star Obi Toppin is the best player you’re not watching

DAYTON, OHIO - JANUARY 14: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers shoots the ball against the VCU Rams at UD Arena on January 14, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
DAYTON, OHIO - JANUARY 14: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers shoots the ball against the VCU Rams at UD Arena on January 14, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Dayton basketball star Obi Tippin is a household name in Ohio, but he’s an unassuming name to the rest of the world. That’s about to change.

If you don’t know who Dayton’s Obi Toppin is, you better learn.

In the Preseason AP Poll, the Dayton Flyers were not ranked. To be more accurate, they only received one vote to be in the rankings. Fast-forward 13 weeks in the future and Toppin not only has led the Flyers into the top 25 but has them sitting at 18-2 and as the No. 7 team in the country.

Dayton is far from a one-man show but, at the same time, Toppin is the star for the Flyers — the lead actor whose performance is carrying the supporting cast. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound sophomore forward from Brooklyn has been one of the most consistent, productive and entertaining players in college basketball. And yet, there’s a chance this is one of the first or among the few times you’ve ever heard of him.

Toppin didn’t appear out of thin air, though.

A year ago, he averaged 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 26.5 minutes per game while shooting 66.6 percent from the field — not bad for a freshman.

As he’s taken up the mantle as Dayton’s on-court leader, however, he’s upped those numbers noticeably, putting up, 19.7 points, 8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 blocks in 30.8 minutes per contest while still shooting 62.2 percent from the floor.

If this isn’t the first you’ve heard of Toppin, you were likely tuned into the Maui Invitational in November when the Dayton standout stole the show as he averaged 24.5 points per game in the two wins over Georgia and Virginia Tech before posting 18 points and nine boards as he almost led the Flyers to an upset win over Kansas.

That overtime defeat at the hands of the Jayhawks is one of just two losses for Dayton this season though. The other came against the Colorado Buffaloes, currently the No. 20 team in the country. Furthermore, the two losses came by only a combined eight points and both in overtime.

Toppin is the heartbeat of that success.

The athletic forward is a consistent playmaker with the ball and with the possessions, he creates as a dominant rebounder at the position. And yet, being largely unheralded despite his talent is nothing new for the Dayton standout.

Coming out of Mt. Zion Prep, Toppin was not heavily recruited before ultimately choosing to sign with the Flyers. He had some interest from bigger programs like Illinois, Georgia and Mississippi State but he was far from a five-star that landed at Dayton so he could be the breakout star playing against A-10 competition.

Even if that’s not who he was, that’s what he’s looked like through 20 games this season.

Toppin has not only led the Flyers to near-unprecedented success as a team but he’s among the favorites to win National Player of the Year honors, has emerged as a likely lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and has the chops to lead Dayton on a deep run in March.

With just over a month remaining in the season, the Flyers are undefeated in the conference and appear to be a lock to win the A-10 barring an unforeseen dropoff.

With Toppin, however, that seems unlikely. His play and leadership that has instilled belief in this team aren’t going anywhere, neither is Dayton.

March Madness is a time made for stars and Toppin fits the mold at every turn.

So you aren’t left behind when he finally gets the full college basketball world watching him, you should go ahead and take notice. He won’t just be great in March — he’s been great the whole way there.

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