While not unexpected, Obi Toppin’s decision to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to the Dayton Flyers for his redshirt sophomore season provided a jolt of adrenaline for UD fans on Tuesday.
One person wrote “Yes!” 48 times in a response to the news on Twitter.
Another fan wrote, “We’ve got an Obi. We’ve got an Ibi (Watson). We got ‘em all! Maui is ours. The A10 is ours. Wake me up in November!”
A long five months will pass for an excited fan base before it can see Toppin in a Dayton uniform again, but his return gives Dayton its most promising and experienced team since 2016-17 and its deepest team since the Elite Eight season of 2013-14. That played a part in Toppin’s decision. He knows as well as anyone how good Dayton can be in Anthony Grant’s third season as head caoch.
“I’m definitely excited,” Toppin said Tuesday. “Like I said when our season ended, our team is stacked. We have a team that starts, and we have another starting team that’s coming off the bench, so when our first five gets tired, our next five is going to be ready. I’m excited to play with them. All of them are my brothers. I greatly appreciate I get to play another year with them.”
» DUNK TRACKER: A list of Toppin’s slams last season
Toppin declared for the draft on April 17 and worked out for five NBA teams in May: the Utah Jazz (May 23); Atlanta Hawks (May 20); Boston Celtics (May 11); Cleveland Cavaliers (May 8); and San Antonio Spurs (May 4). He had until Wednesday to withdraw from the draft and maintain his college eligibility.
“I just felt coming back was the best decision for me,” Toppin said. “To get another year to get better and play with my brothers is a great opportunity. I feel I made the best decision, and I’m happy.”
Asked if it was a close decision, if he really considered staying in the draft and leaving college, Toppin said, “I don’t want to say I really considered leaving. I wanted to really just test it and see how everything worked, to see the different things they teach and expect at the next level. I felt I got the best feedback and made the decision I made.”
Toppin said NBA teams like his length and athleticism. He showcased his talents in individual drills and in team workouts with other prospects.
“I was able to show all the different things I’m able to do,” he said. “Getting to see some of the (NBA) players work out after our workouts, seeing the things they do, and seeing other great players fight for the same thing I’m fighting for. It was just a great experience seeing all that and getting the opportunity to showcase my talent in front of the coaches.”
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Toppin stayed in Dayton for most of May, traveling to his workouts and then returning to campus. His teammates knew in advance of his announcement he would be returning, as did Grant.
“I had a meeting with him a couple days ago and talked to him about my decision,” Toppin said, “and the coaching staff was happy.”
Toppin began the process in April with an open mind. He said he would have only stayed in the draft if he heard he would go in the first round.
“That’s basically what I was thinking,” Toppin said. “If I could do that, I’ll go, but even if they said I could go in the first round, my option of coming back to school would have still been there. I definitely would have thought about it.”
Toppin’s chances of going that high were slim after he didn’t earn an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine. Only 66 players made that list.
By returning to Dayton, Toppin can improve his chances next season. Dayton has top-25 potential. The Flyers will have a good chance to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years, and they’ll be one of the top contenders in an improved Atlantic 10 Conference.
In short, Toppin had plenty of reasons to return to school. Playing against his brother Jacob Toppin, who signed with Rhode Island in May, is another. Toppin said he wasn’t disappointed in his brother choosing the rival Rams over Dayton and other schools.
“Anywhere that makes him happy, I’m happy for him,” Toppin said. “I feel like Rhode Island is a good choice for him. He’s going to go there and make a name for himself. He didn’t really want to be up under my shadow. I’m glad he went somewhere he can create his own path and show what he can do. I’m happy he chose that school, and I can’t wait to play them.”