Dayton’s Obi Toppin earns 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy for being named the men’s player of the year


For Dayton and its fans, here is the silver lining on a season cut short: The Flyers were set to get their first No. 1 seed in school history, they were coached by the Naismith National Coach of the Year and they boasted the best player in the sport. That third part became official on Friday, when it was announced live on CBS Sports HQ that Obi Toppin earned the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy, given to the most outstanding men’s college basketball player.

The Flyers junior joins his coach, Anthony Grant, in receiving year-end honors from the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which organizes the Naismith Awards. Toppin won out over his closest contenders, Iowa’s Luka Garza and Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike, but also two other finalists in Oregon’s Payton Pritchard and Seton Hall’s Myles Powell.

Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu was recognized as the most outstanding women’s college basketball player of the year and won the Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy.

Dayton went 29-2 thanks in no small order to Toppin leading the way with averages of 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and a 69.8 2-point shooting percentage. Toppin was also a solid 3-point option; he averaged 39% from beyond the arc, shooting 82 triples in 2019-20.

“Obi plays with joy,” Grant told CBS Sports earlier in the year. “He really enjoys playing the game and enjoys playing with his teammates. At 6-9 he’s athletic, has speed and skill and is really, really unselfish.”

His breakout campaign should also give him a healthy shot at being a top-five NBA pick.

Toppin’s 107 dunks were the second most in a season in college basketball the past decade, and the fact he was so good around the rim also helped Dayton shoot 62.3% from 2-point range, which is the third most accurate shooting performance by a team in side the 3-point line in the history of men’s basketball.

CBS Sports spoke with Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, who had Grant on his staff during the championship years at Florida in the 2000s, and asked him if Toppin’s utilization this season reminded him of any of Florida’s really good players during that era. Grant was a primary coach for Florida’s bigs from 1996-2006.

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“What he did with Toppin was probably very, very similar — Anthony is a great tactician — he probably did a lot of similar things that we tried to do with (Al) Hoford and (Joakim) Noah,” Donovan said. “Toppin used more of as a stretch guy than those guys, and he took more 3s. So maybe he put him in some different actions. But I don’t think there’s any question that in terms of the things we were doing, in what I saw, he was similar to those guys.”

Donovan praised Grant, and Toppin and his teammates, for how they were able to not just run the table in league play but to upgrade their offensive identity so impressively. Dayton ranked first in effective field goal percentage this season and was the second-best points-per-possession team in college hoops to Gonzaga. It was also top-15 in assist rate.

“I almost liken offense to music, and what I mean by that, when you talk about different styles offensively, it almost becomes like music because there’s not a lot of communication on offense,” Donovan said. “You’re not really talking on offense. You’re playing off of each other — you’re playing with each other — playing off each other’s strengths and trying to create music together as a group. When you hear a group playing music, they’re doing that. So we try to make music inside ourselves as a team.”

Dayton not only made great music, it blasted its best stuff all season long. Toppin of course was the lead singer, if you will, in that outfit. His statistics were not record-setting, but to watch Dayton this past season and to watch Toppin was to see a team that was dominant, had a click to it and tapped into a killer instinct that manifested itself over and over. Though this isn’t technically an award based on value, it’s hard to make the case for anyone other than Toppin as the most valuable player men’s college hoops had in 2019-20.

All-time winners

Year Player School
2020 Obi Toppin Dayton
2019 Zion Williamson Duke
2018 Jalen Brunson Villanova
2017 Frank Mason III Kansas
2016 Buddy Hield Oklahoma
2015 Frank Kaminsky III Wisconsin
2014 Doug McDermott Creighton
2013 Trey Burke Michigan
2012 Anthony Davis Kentucky
2011 Jimmer Fredette BYU
2010 Evan Turner Ohio State
2009 Blake Griffin Oklahoma
2008 Tyler Hansbrough North Carolina
2007 Kevin Durant Texas
2006 J.J. Redick Duke
2005 Andrew Bogut Utah
2004 Jameer Nelson Saint Joseph’s
2003 T.J. Ford Texas
2002 Jay Williams Duke
2001 Shane Battier Duke
2000 Kenyon Martin Cincinnati
1999 Elton Brand Duke
1998 Antawn Jamison North Carolina
1997 Tim Duncan Wake Forest
1996 Marcus Camby UMass
1995 Joe Smith Maryland
1994 Glenn Robinson Purdue
1993 Calbert Cheaney Indiana
1992 Christian Laettner Duke
1991 Larry Johnson UNLV
1990 Lionel Simmons LaSalle
1989 Danny Ferry Duke
1988 Danny Manning Kansas
1987 David Robinson Navy
1986 Johnny Dawkins Duke
1985 Patrick Ewing Georgetown
1984 Michael Jordan North Carolina
1983 Ralph Sampson Virginia
1982 Ralph Sampson Virginia
1981 Ralph Sampson Virginia
1980 Mark Aguirre DePaul
1979 Larry Bird Indiana State
1978 Butch Lee Marquette
1977 Marques Johnson UCLA
1976 Scott May Indiana
1975 David Thompson NC State
1974 Bill Walton UCLA
1973 Bill Walton UCLA
1972 Bill Walton UCLA
1971 Austin Carr Notre Dame
1970 Pete Maravich LSU
1969 Lew Alcindor UCLA





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