Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant has kept in contact with Obi Toppin since the 2019-20 season ended abruptly March 12. They speak from time to time, Grant said Friday, and had last spoken earlier that week.
Like the rest of the Flyers, Toppin left campus in March when the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of the postseason and forced the university to conduct classes remotely. As expected, Toppin declared for the NBA Draft in March, but his wait for that draft has gone on longer than anyone expected.
In a typical year, the consensus national player of the year would have heard his name called in June and would now be preparing with his new team for the season. Instead, Toppin is home in New York City and waiting for a twice-delayed draft that will now take place Nov. 18. When he does get drafted, he’ll be Dayton’s first first-round pick since Jim Paxson went to the Portland Trail Blazers with the 12th pick in 1979.
‘"I’m just excited for him," Grant said. “I hate that he’s had to wait this long to find out where he’ll be and what’s next for him, but I think he’s handled it well and looks good and seems to be in a good place.”
Grant said Toppin has signed several endorsement deals and has agents have " have got him in a situation where he has access to places to work out and keep himself prepared."
Toppin will not participate in the NBA Draft Combine, according to a report Sunday by Shams Charania, of The Athletic. Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman, two other projected top picks, also opted out.
Toppin is projected to go to the Golden State Warriors with the No. 2 pick, in the latest mock draft by Matt Norlander, of CBS Sports. Beat writers at The Athletic predict Toppin will fall to the No. 10 pick and be drafted by the Warriors, who will acquire that pick from the Phoenix Suns.
The latest mock draft by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Toppin going to the Chicago Bulls with the fourth pick. Matt Babcock, of BabcockHoops.com, predicts the Minnesota Timberwolves will draft Toppin with the first overall pick.
Toppin was interviewed recently for a NBA on TNT piece that also featured Edwards and Wiseman. Here’s are the highlights of what he said on the video:
On his excitement about the draft: “All the cameras, all the people that’s going to be around me, it’s going to be amazing, and I can’t wait for that day to come. ... I get goose bumps talking about it right now,:
On life as a top prospect in 2020: “This is a very tough year. The coronavirus kind of messed everything up for sports. It gives me a little bit of anxiety. Now I’m just getting extra time to get in the gym to perfect my game and prepare myself for that next level."
On his rise: “Coming from being not recruited to being one of the top players in the draft is amazing. My first dunk wasn’t until my senior year of high school, so if there’s a clear lane, I’m dunking it. There’s no laying the ball up anymore.”
On Dayton’s 29-2 season: “If the tournament wasn’t cancelled, our team would have won the whole thing. The tournament for mid-major players can help them a lot. But I feel what I did in the regular season and the preseason, I did enough to show a lot of teams in the NBA what I’m capable of doing.”
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