Can Obi Toppin make another unlikely star leap?

Dayton’s Obi Toppin was the best player in college basketball last season, with an offensive game built for the modern NBA. He’s a ferocious dunker, the son of a New York streetball legend known as “Dunkers Delight.” He’s an effortless floor spacer and a career 41.7% 3-point shooter. He’s an outstanding passer and an efficient scorer, posting a 69.4 true shooting percentage over the course of 64 college games. And he plays with a joy and charisma that appeals to basketball fans everywhere.

In a class with so much uncertainty, why isn’t Toppin a candidate for the top pick in the 2020 draft? For starters, 22-year-olds drafted in the top 10 don’t have the strongest track record. Outside of Damian Lillard in 2012, here’s the rest of the list over the past decade:

  • 2016: Kris Dunn (No. 5), Buddy Hield (No. 6)

  • 2015: Frank Kaminsky (No. 9)

  • 2011: Jimmer Fredette (No. 10)

  • 2010: Wesley Johnson (No. 4), Ekpe Udoh (No. 6 overall)

But Toppin has carved a different path than most prospects his age.

“I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think I was going to go anywhere after my high school career,” Toppin told ESPN. “I thought I was going to go to [junior college], maybe go to another school after that, maybe go overseas.”

And what would Toppin’s own mother have said if she had been told five years ago that he would be a top draft prospect? “April Fools’,” Roni Toppin responded with a laugh.

Toppin has already made one unlikely leap from forgettable high school prospect to college basketball star. Does his unusual trajectory put him on track for a second jump at the NBA level?

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