NBA Draft: Toppin 41st Dayton player drafted since 1952

Former Flyers standout picked by hometown New York Knicks

For all the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball program has accomplished over the years, it had never had a moment that compared to what it experienced on the first night of the NBA Draft.

» MOCK DRAFTS: Where will Toppin land?

Dayton had sent 22 players, including four who were undrafted in the last two decades, to the NBA and had seen 40 players drafted by the NBA since 1952. However, none of those players was a lottery pick during the modern era of the draft, which in a typical year brings the top picks to one location for a glitzy, star-studded, made-for-television show.

Obi Toppin, who was drafted eighth overall by the New York Knicks on Wednesday, didn’t experience that kind of draft because of the coronavirus pandemic. He watched the draft with family and friends, including former Dayton teammate Jalen Crutcher, on TV like everyone else.

» ARCHDEACON: One last alley-oop between Crutcher and Toppin

As some of the stories below show, the Dayton players who have been high picks did not get to experience the draft in person or throw on the hat of their new team for the TV cameras. Here’s a look back at the former Flyers who have been drafted in the top 60 since 1964.

2018: Kostas Antetokounmpo (second round, 60th pick)

The Dallas Mavericks chose Antetokounmpo with the last pick of the draft. He played in two games for the Mavericks as a rookie. In 2020, he appeared in five games and earned a NBA championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers.

At this point, 56 of the 60 players drafted in 2018 have appeared in at least one NBA game. Trae Young, the No. 5 pick, and Luka Doncic, the No. 3 pick, lead the 2018 draft class in scoring after two seasons.

Credit: Layne Murdoch

Credit: Layne Murdoch

1990: Negele Knight (second round, 31st pick)

The Phoenix Suns drafted Knight, who watched the draft at home at his brother’s house in Detroit.

“I never sat down and talked to (the Suns) and I never heard from them,” Knight said then. “It’s a surprise to me, but it’s a good surprise. I’m doing fine ... now that I don’t have to play against (Suns guard Kevin Johnson). I played against him in our Christmas tournament my freshman year. People ask me who was the best guard I’ve ever played against, and that’s him.”

Knight averaged 6.2 points in an eight-year career that ended in 1999 with the Toronto Raptors. Gary Payton, the No. 2 pick, proved to be the best player in the 1990 draft class.

1985: Sedric Toney (third round, 59th pick)

Toney was working at a Dayton basketball camp when he learned he had been drafted by the Atlanta Hawks.

“I just stayed here and waited patiently, hoping something would happen,” Toney said then. “It’s hard in this business to guess because everyone always changes their minds.”

Toney appeared in 112 games over five NBA seasons. His career ended in 1993 when he played in 12 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The best player in the 1985 class was Karl Malone, the No. 13 pick.

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

1984: Roosevelt Chapman (third round, 54th pick)

The Kansas City Kings drafted Chapman, who remains Dayton’s all-time leading scorer. He said then many agents and scouts had told him he would be a first-round pick. He said he would be motivated by the snub.

“Yes, I’m disappointed,” Chapman said. “I felt I should have gone higher.”

Chapman was cut by the Kings in training camp and never played in the NBA. The best player in the 1984 class was the No. 2 pick: Michael Jordan.

1979: Jim Paxson (first round, 12th pick)

Paxson was at his family’s home in Kettering when the phone rang at 2 p.m. on June 25. It was the Portland Trail Blazers calling to tell him he had been drafted. The phone didn’t stop ringing with that call.

“I didn’t realize they had so many newspapers, television and radio stations up there,” Paxson told Marc Katz, of the Dayton Daily News. “I must have talked to seven news people from Portland already.”

Paxson played nine seasons in Portland and three with the Boston Celtics, averaging 14.3 points in his career. The first overall pick in 1979 and the player from the class who had the best NBA career was Magic Johnson.

1976: Johnny Davis (second round, 22nd pick)

Davis left school with one season of eligibility remaining. At that time, players who left school early put their name on the “hardship list.” He announced in early June he would keep his name on that list and would not return to UD. There were 17 picks per round in 1976, and the Portland Trail Blazers picked Davis with the fifth pick of the second round.

Robert Parrish, the No. 8 pick, turned out to be the best player in that class. Davis had a solid 10-year career, averaging 12.9 points and playing for four different teams. He earned a starting job in the playoffs as a rookie and scored in double figures seven times in 16 playoff games, helping lead the Trail Blazers to the NBA championship.

1974: Donald Smith (second round, 19th pick)

The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Smith with the first pick of the second round. He averaged 5.2 points in 54 games as a rookie but did not play in the NBA again. The best player in the 1974 draft was George Gervin, the No. 40 pick.

1968: Don May (third round, 30th pick)

The New York Knicks drafted May with the eighth pick of the third round. He averaged 8.8 points in a seven-year NBA career that ended in 1975 with the Kansas City Kings. Elvin Hayes, the No. 1 pick, turned out to be best player in the draft.

1964: Bill Chmielewski (second round, 15th pick)

The Cincinnati Royals drafted Chmielewski with the second-to-last pick of the second round. He learned he had been drafted by calling a local newspaper. He was teaching a seventh-grade class in Detroit when he made the call.

Chmielewski was cut by the Royals and never played in the NBA. Willis Reed, the No. 8 pick, was among the starts in the 1964 class.

1964: Hank Finkel (fourth round, 30th pick)

The Lakers drafted Finkel with the fifth pick of the fourth round. He played one season with the Lakers and nine seasons in the league, averaging 5.5 points. Finkel won a NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 1974.

1964: Gordy Hatton (seventh round, 56th pick)

The 76ers drafted Hatton, who did not reach the league. Only player drafted after him did.

Other picks

The Flyers had 15 players drafted before 1964. The first year any Dayton player was drafted was 1952. The Fort Wayne Pistons drafted Don Meineke with the 12th overall pick.The Baltimore Bullets picked Chuck Grigsby with the first pick of the third round that year. He was the No. 21 overall pick. Junior Norris was also drafted that year by Rochester.

Dayton’s highest-drafted player was Jim Paxson Sr., who was the No. 3 pick in 1956.

About the Author