Obi Toppin is testing the NBA draft waters.
The Dayton forward, who had a standout redshirt freshman season for the Flyers, announced Wednesday he plans to do so — 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!”
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Underclassmen have until April 21 to declare for the draft. This year, for the first time, they can hire an agent and still return to school if they they terminate the agreement with the agent. The deadline for withdrawing from the draft is 5 p.m. June 10. The draft takes place June 20.
Toppin averaged 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in his first season on the court with Dayton as a redshirt freshman. He 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.
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As Toppin improved from month to month throughout his redshirt freshman season, speculation grew that he might test the NBA Draft waters after the season or at the very least declare for the draft without hiring an agent, allowing him to work out for scouts and still return to school. He turned 21 on March 4, so he’s already older than the first nine players drafted in 2018.
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"Obi is taking advantage of the new NCAA rules to make the best decision for himself and his family," Flyers coach Anthony Grant said in a statement.
"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."
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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.
The last Dayton player to leave for the draft early was Kostas Antetokounmpo in 2018. He was the last player selected in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks.
Charles Cooke explored his draft options before his senior year in 2016 but opted to return to school for his final season of eligibility.
Toppin’s mom, Roni Toppin, addressed the NBA question in March.
“I hope he makes the right choice and goes go back to school,” Roni told Dayton Daily News columnist Tom Archdeacon. “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.”
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Obi Toppin was also asked about his plans in March.
“Right now, my focus is on our games coming up,” Toppin said. “I don’t really focus on that kind of stuff. I see it. It’s an honor.”
“Is that something you have to think about after the season?” he was asked.
“I don’t know yet,” Toppin said.