Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press
Dayton’s Obi Toppin was announced Tuesday as the winner of the 2020 John R. Wooden Award as the most notable college basketball player of the season.
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He beat Markus Howard of Marquette, Udoka of Kansas Azubuike, Luka Garza of Iowa and Myles Powell of Seton Hall for the honor.
Toppin, who also won the Naismith Male Player of the Year Award, was the driving force behind Dayton’s emergence as a national title contender. He averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks in 31 games with the Flyers.
The 22-year-old New York native stole the spotlight with 18 points and nine boards in an overtime loss to Kansas in late November and continued to play at that high level for most of the campaign.
He joins a list of wooden recipients that includes Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant and last year’s winner, Zion Williamson.
One of the wildest college basketball campaigns in recent memory ended prematurely in early March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The decision to cancel the rest of the 2019-20 season was made at conference tournaments before the cancellation of the entire NCAA 2020 tournament.
The first four months have been a treat for fans who love chaos. No ranked team was safe in the midst of a constant barrage of upheavals that led to a Top 25 jolt on a weekly basis.
It also created a wide open race for the wooden prize with several players arguing strongly for at least one place in the conversation.
Michigan state goalkeeper Cassius Winston, the pre-season favorite, stayed in the discussion for a while, but saw his numbers drop from his junior breakout season last year. He averaged 18.6 points, 5.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 trios while shooting 44.8% on the field in 30 games.
Winston revealed that his senior campaign did not go as planned, but the Spartans still finished co-champions of the Big Ten regular season.
“I came out champion,” he said on ESPN (via Kyle Austin of MLive). “It’s not the season we wanted, it’s not the season we expected, but in the end we fought a lot, we fought and we were lucky enough to hoist a trophy . My senior year, I feel like I finished with a championship. ”
Ultimately, Winston was not among the finalists for the best individual honor of the season.