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Dayton forward Obi Toppin: “Flyer Nation, I’m back!”

Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 @ 1:51 PM

Dayton’s Obi Toppin dunks against Richmond on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
Dayton’s Obi Toppin dunks against Richmond on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Fans of the Dayton Flyers have waited almost six weeks for Obi Toppin’s decision, and here it is:

Toppin announced Tuesday he will return to the University of Dayton for this redshirt sophomore season.

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IM BACK!! Part 2 😈🤫

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The deadline for underclassmen who declared for the draft to withdraw from the draft and maintain their college eligibility is Wednesday. Toppin was one of 233 early-entry prospects and one of four players from the Atlantic 10 Conference to put his name in the draft, along with Davidson’s Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who announced they are returning to school, and Saint Joseph’s Charlie Brown, who will stay in the draft.

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» DUNK TRACKER: A list of Toppin’s slams last season

Toppin was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine but worked out for a number of NBA teams in May: Utah Jazz (May 23); Atlanta Hawks (May 20); Boston Celtics (May 11); Cleveland Cavaliers (May 8); and San Antonio Spurs (May 4). He announced each of them with photos posted to Instagram.

Toppin arrived at UD in June 2017 but sat out the 2017-18 season as an academic redshirt. In the 2018-19 season, he was named to the All-Atlantic 10 first team. He was the first rookie to earn that honor in 20 years. He also became the first Dayton player to win the A-10 Rookie of the Year Award.

Toppin averaged 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds as a redshirt freshman. He finished the season with 83 dunks among 201 made field goals. He shot 66.6 percent from the field, ranking fourth in the country.

» ARCHDEACON ON OBI: Eager to debut as redshirt freshmanA leader win win over Saint LouisKey to a win over Saint Joseph’sSets school record wight eight dunks in a game

Toppin announced April 17 he was declaring for the NBA Draft and would go through the pre-draft process while maintaining his eligibility.

“After discussing my future plans with my family and coaches, I have decided to enter my name in the 2019 NBA draft,” he wrote in a message posted on Twitter. “Throughout this process I’ll be keeping my eligibility. thank you all for your support, it’s greatly appreciated. Go Flyers!”

“Obi is taking advantage of the new NCAA rules to make the best decision for himself and his family,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said in a statement when Toppin declared for the draft. “He is an enjoyable young man to coach, and has worked very hard for this opportunity to see where he is at this stage of his career. We will work closely with Obi throughout the process and support whatever decision he makes.”

The draft will be held June 20. Dayton’s Kostas Antetokounmpo was the last player selected in the second round in 2018. He was the first Flyer drafted since Negele Knight in 1990.

Toppin was the third Dayton player since 2016 to declare for the draft as an underclassmen. Charles Cooke went through the process after his junior season in 2016. He also worked out for the Celtics. He decided to return for his senior year.

Toppin has the size (6-foot-9, 220 pounds) and the versatility (he made 11 of 21 3-pointers) to play at the next level, and several Atlantic 10 coaches added to the hype by calling him a NBA talent.

“He’s terrific,” Massachusetts coach Matt McCall said last season. “He’s a pro. Obi Toppin will play in the NBA, barring some injury. That guy is athletic. He’s a runner. He’s a jumper. He plays with a motor. He blocks shots.”

Obi Toppin’s mom, Roni Toppin, talked about his future in March.

“I hope he makes the right choice and goes go back to school,” Roni said. “He has grown so much this year, but he still has a little more growth to do. He has a lot more game that is going to come out and when you think about the team they are going to have next year, it’s going to be something. He’ll grow even more on the court and off and I think he’s in the perfect place to do it. Dayton is the perfect fit for him, so I’d like him to stay another year.”