As we all know, Obi Toppin recently won the AP National Player of the Year award. Congrats to the Dayton Flyer on his accomplishment.
Though, in my opinion, there was a better alternative. That player being Iowa center Luka Garza.
Let’s start with the level of competition that these two both went against. Obviously both are at D1 schools, but there’s a bit of a difference between the A10 and the Big Ten.
The Atlantic 10s only team that finished ranked were the Flyers themselves. Including Iowa, the Big Ten had SIX top 25 teams. In another ranking system, the NET, the Atlantic 10 had two schools (Dayton and Richmond) inside the top 40. The Big Ten had 10 schools inside the top 40.
Against likely tournament teams, the Flyers were 1-2, with losses to Colorado and Kansas, and a win over St Mary’s. Through these games Toppin tallied 51 points & 22 rebounds, for an average of 17 and 7. Against teams that finished in the top 25, Iowa went 4-4 with Garza averaging 21 & 9.
Even against top tier teams, Luka Garza showed out.
Obi Toppin’s breeze of a schedule pushed his averages high, but Garza’s 24 and 10 on the season tops Obi’s 20 & 7. Stats aren’t everything, but putting up those numbers in the best conference in basketball can’t go unnoticed.
Unfortunately for us, the hard working, gritty and grinding player in the paint doesn’t get the same respect as a high flying superstar.
Toppin’s flashiness won him the award, but in my opinion Garza should’ve won Naismith’s Player of the Year award based on the competition he went up against, and the numbers he tallied up against them.
Photo: Mike Carter / USA TODAY Sports