Toppin: Dayton has tools to compete on ‘the highest stage’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Obi Toppin: A lot of new dunks planned for next season

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

UD’s leading returning scorer says he has new dunks to show fans

The Dayton Flyers dunk show returns to the big screen at UD Arena — or the little screen for fans who watch games at home on their phones — in November. The second season of Obi Toppin slamming lobs from Jalen Crutcher should draw even better ratings than the first.

» PHOTOS: Toppin through the years

“What are we going to see from you dunk-wise next season?” Toppin was asked last week.

“A lot,” Toppin said. “A lot of new dunks.”

“What do you guys have in store for Dayton fans?”

“I’m just going to say, ‘Stay tuned,’ ” Crutcher said. “I’m not going to spill the beans right now, but we’re going to sure make we’re in ESPN’s top 10.”

» TRANSFERS FEATURE: Flyers excited about talented group

Toppin dunked 83 times last season, setting the school record for dunks in a season. Crutcher assisted him on 37 of those, though Toppin's most famous dunk, the between-the-legs slam, came on a fast break. If that dunk doesn't return, Toppin has new dunks in his arsenal to excite the Flyer Faithful.

“I’ve got a behind-the-back now,” Toppin said. “I just started doing that. I can do that easily. Windmill off the oop, me and Jalen have been doing that a lot. We’ve got new tricks coming.”

» JALEN CRUTCHER: Dayton analyzing film this summerPhotos

The Toppin-Crutcher connection extends beyond the court. The two are roommates. They talk about the team's goals, and interviewed separately last week, both mentioned a goal rarely mentioned by Dayton players and only occasionally talked about by the biggest dreamers in the fan base.

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Watch: Dayton's Toppin dunks four times in 105 seconds

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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WATCH: Obi Toppin goes between the legs for dunk in Dayton win

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That goal is a national championship. Toppin, who may be Dayton’s best NBA prospect in decades, is a big reason the Flyers have set their sights far beyond Dayton’s normal goals of winning the Atlantic 10 championship and advancing in the NCAA tournament.

“I feel the group we have now is an amazing group,” Toppin said. “We’re bonded together really close, and we’re just a family. I feel with the team we have, we can go really far. We talk about competing at the highest stage. We have all the tools. We have the starters, the bench. We’re really deep.”

» TREY LANDERS: Nothing less than a championship will sufficePhotos

Toppin traveled far in the spring after declaring for the NBA draft. He did not hire an agent but worked out for five NBA teams before announcing May 28 he would return to UD for his redshirt sophomore season. He was invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp, where he would have had a chance to compete for a spot at the NBA Draft Combine, but turned down the invitation because he and his advisers thought the team workouts would be enough.

Toppin said he wouldn’t have stayed in the draft unless he had a written guarantee from a team that he would be drafted. The teams he visited gave him feedback on his game but never told him whether or not he would get drafted.

In the end, Toppin returned to school in part because of how good Dayton could be next season and how improved he could be. The draft process should make him a better player.

“I feel everyone that goes through the process gets a feel for the next level: the intensity they work at, the amount of focus they give and you need to have,” Toppin said. “Going through it the feedback I got will definitely help me. I know what I have to work on and what I have to do to help my team win.”

» RYAN MIKESELL: Soaking in final yearPhotos

Toppin, the A-10 Rookie of the Year and the first A-10 rookie first team member in 20 years, led the Flyers with 14.4 points per game last season and averaged 5.6 rebounds as a redshirt freshman. He shot 66.6 percent from the field, ranking fourth in the country. He also showed an outside shooting touch, making 11 of 21 3-pointers (52.4 percent).

Toppin has continued to work on his 3-point shot and plans to show more of what he can do behind the arc. He’s also working on improving his rebounds, his shot blocking and his defense in general.

None of that should take away from his dunking. He rates himself the team’s best dunker, Florida transfer Chase Johnson the second best with senior Trey Landers third and Michigan transfer Ibi Watson behind Landers.

“Everyone on the team can dunk, though,” Toppin said. “We’ll be a dunking team.”

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Jalen Crutcher: Dayton will be fun team to watch next season

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