Brea will not get to play with Toppin, who declared for the NBA Draft in March and is expected to be a lottery pick in June, but did meet him while visiting UD. Toppin told Brea to "stay locked in and focused," something he achieved on his way to winning the Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and Oscar Robertston Trophy as national player of the year.
Brea said Toppin's windmill dunk against his brother Jacob and Rhode Island in February at UD Arena was his favorite Toppin moment, though there were many dunks to admire.
“He does it so effortlessly,” Brea said.
Brea threw down some dunks of his own during his final year at the high-school level. He averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. He said his game matured in a number of small ways, but he made his biggest gains as a leader.
“I was kind of quiet my junior year,” Brea said, “and my senior year I had to be more vocal and help out my coaches and the team.”
Brea helped lead Scanlan to the Catholic High School Athletic Association AA final four in New York for the first time. The coronavirus pandemic kept Scanlan from advancing any further. It won its final game after the location had changed from Fordham University to Christ the King High School and finally to Stepinac High School. Three days later, the team learned the season was over.
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“That was so disappointing, especially because it was my senior year,” Brea said. “This whole year, we were looking forward to getting to that point, and we finally made it and it was out of out control. There was nothing else we could do.”
The whole sports world stopped March 12, and schools across the country soon closed. Brea has spent the last month with his family at home. He appreciates the extra time he gets to spend with his 4-year-old brother Tyler.
Brea talks to a trainer on FaceTime and works out at home and was going out with a mask and gloves to shoot baskets in the park until all the rims in New York City came down.
“The whole family is pretty much stuck at home,” Brea said. “This is the most empty and quiet I’ve seen New York be. Everybody’s definitely been staying home.”
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Brea would have arrived at Dayton in June and enrolled in the university for the second semester. He’s not sure now. No one knows will school will reopen and students will be allowed on campus.
When Brea does get to UD, he’ll start to get a better idea of what his future will look like. When he committed, there was talking of him redshirting his freshman year because he doesn’t turn 18 until November. He knows Toppin made the most of a redshirt year, and Dayton redshirted Moulaye Sissoko last season. Of course, there’s also a chance Dayton will need Brea to play.
“We haven’t really decided what I’m going to be doing,” Brea said. “I just want to do what’s best for me, what will help me the most.”