SPORTS

Obi Toppin, not Luka Garza, is AP's National Men's Basketball Player of the Year

Sophomore forward led Dayton to 29-2 record

Dayton's Obi Toppin dunks in the Flyers' 71-58 win over North Texas last Dec. 17 in Dayton, Ohio. Toppin was named Assoc
Dayton’s Obi Toppin dunks in the Flyers’ 71-58 win over North Texas last Dec. 17 in Dayton, Ohio. Toppin was named Associated Press’ Men’s Basketball National Player of the Year Tuesday. (John Minchillo/Associated Press)

There won’t be a clean National Men’s Basketball Player of the Year sweep for Iowa’s Luka Garza.

Dayton 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Obi Toppin was named Associated Press’ winner of that award for 2019-20 on Tuesday. Toppin averaged 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Flyers, who won their last 20 games, went 29-2, and had an 18-0 record in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Toppin was on 34 of the 65 ballots, Garza on 24. Marquette’s Markus Howard got three votes, while Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike and Oregon’s Payton Pritchard were on two apiece.

Toppin was 245-of-387 from the field (63.3 percent), with over 100 of those baskets coming on dunks.

Dayton’s Anthony Grant was named AP’s Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year. Dayton, picked third in the Atlantic 10 Conference in the preseason, was third in the final AP Top 25 poll of the season.

The 6-11 junior center Garza was the National Player of the Year choice of The Sporting News, Basketball Times, Stadium, The Athletic, Bleacher Report and ESPN, and was the Big Ten’s Player of the Year.

No Hawkeye has won the AP men’s award in its 60-year history. Iowa’s Megan Gustafson was last year’s AP women’s Player of the Year and is the only Big Ten player to get the honor since it originated in 1995.

Garza averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Hawkeyes. He averaged 26.2 points in Big Ten games, and scored at least 20 in his last 16 conference contests, the first Big Ten player to do so since Ohio State’s Dennis Hopson in 1987.

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Last week, Garza became Iowa’s first Associated Press first-team All-America since Chuck Darling in 1952. He was named on 63 of the 65 ballots. Toppin was on all 65.

Garza and Toppin are also finalists for other national awards, including the prestigious Naismith Trophy (to be announced April 5) and John Wooden Award (April 10).

Also Tuesday, Garza was named a first-team All-America by the National Association of Basketball Coaches with Toppin, Markus Howard of Marquette, Payton Pritchard of Oregon and Udoka Azubuike of Kansas.

Garza has earned consensus first-team All-America status as a result of being voted to All-America first teams by the NABC, Sporting News, AP, and United States Basketball Writers Association. Garza joins former Hawkeyes Murray Wier (1948) and Charles Darling (1952) as Iowa’s consensus first team All-Americans.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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