The Atlantic 10 Conference last produced a Wooden Award winner in 2004: Saint Joseph’s guard Jameer Nelson. The last eight winners of the college basketball player of the year award have come from the top six conferences.
Could this be the year those streaks end? Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin might have a say in that.
On Friday, two ESPN writers wrote they would pick Toppin as their player of the year. He’s averaging 19.8 points per game while shooting 62.7 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from 3-point range. He’s also averaging 7.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
Toppin followed a 31-point performance against North Florida on Monday with 20 points Thursday in No. 20 Dayton’s 84-58 victory at La Salle.
Here’s what the ESPN writers had to say about Toppin’s play:
John Gasaway: “I'm going with Toppin at No. 1 because I suspect if we sat down with the preseason versions of ourselves and said, oh, by the way, Dayton might earn a top-four seed, we would be amazed. Yet it's happening, and there's zero doubt that Toppin is the reason for it. (Well, Anthony Grant has helped this amazing development, too.)”
» DECADE IN REVIEW: Best and worst of UD basketball
Myron Medcalf: “If it's best player in the country right now, I think I'd go with Toppin at No. 1. But these awards tend to go to the best players on top teams, so I like the chances of Filip Petrusev, who is averaging 17.1 PPG and 8.0 RPG for a Gonzaga team that might not lose another game before the NCAA tournament.”
Toppin ranks seventh in the Ken Pomeroy Player of the Year standings behind Duke’s Vernon Carey, Louisville’s Jordan Nwora, Kansas’ Devon Dotson, Iowa’s Luke Garza and Marquette’s Markus Howard.
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