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  • Ben Hall

Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher Are Ready to Lead the Dayton Flyers Back to the NCAA Tournament

The Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team went 21-12 last season. They made the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) but lost at Colorado 78-73 to finish their season.

Two of the top leading scorers on the Flyers last season, who played a huge part in the team's success, were Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher. 

Both Toppin and Crutcher will be returning to Dayton this season and are ready to lead the Flyers to an Atlantic-10 championship.

Toppin is a 6’9 forward from Brooklyn, New York. 

“I have always wanted to do it growing up,” Toppin said when asked what it means to be able to represent the city of New York with basketball. “Being able to put on for where I live at is just a dream come true. I just enjoy every moment of it.”

Following high school, he attended Mt. Zion Prep which is a prep school in Baltimore, Maryland. In just one season at Mt. Zion Prep, Toppin averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Mt. Zion Prep helped Toppin get ready to play at the division 1 level. He committed to Dayton following his season.

“At Mt. Zion Prep, we were playing against the best competition around the world,” Toppin said. “They taught us the skills that I’m learning even more now in college. So they did the basics of what I was supposed to learn in college and they helped me so much throughout that process.”

As a freshman at Dayton, Toppin was an academic redshirt. But in the 2018-19 season, Toppin had a great season while averaging 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. He was named Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year and First Team All-Atlantic 10. 

“It meant so much to me knowing that the work I put in all summer and during my freshman year sitting out, I couldn’t wait to get back on the court,” Toppin said “To be named those two things, it was a dream come true and I’m very thankful for it.”

Following his redshirt freshman season, Toppin declared for the NBA Draft without signing an agent which meant he could still return to Dayton as long as he made the decision by May 29th at 11:59 P.M. EST. On May 28th, Toppin announced that he would be returning to Dayton for his redshirt sophomore year.

“It was definitely helpful, but I couldn’t get to where I was without my teammates,” Toppin said when asked how being able to test the NBA Draft was helpful. “It taught me new skills that I can work on and the pace of basketball that the next level takes. Working to get to the next level is going to be hard but I can get through it.”

Heading into this season, Toppin is ready to win an Atlantic-10 championship.

“The goal is to get better and be well bonded together. We want to win an A-10 Tournament and get to the NCAA Tournament and win that as well,” Toppin said.

Jalen Crutcher is a 6’1 junior from Memphis, Tennessee. 

“It feels great represent Memphis,” Crutcher said. Memphis is a small city and not many people are able to do what I’m doing right now.”

Crutcher committed to Dayton following his senior year of high school. 

As a freshman at Dayton, Crutcher played a huge impact for the Flyers, who had a struggling season. Crutcher averaged 9.2 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.1 rebounds and was named to the Atlantic-10 All Rookie Team.

“Playing my freshman year was a great experience,” Crutcher said. “I’m glad coach gave me the opportunity to go out there and play as a freshman. He showed that he had trust in me and it gave me a lot of experience which I think will help me through my college career.”

In the 2018-19 season, Crutcher averaged 13.2 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game and was named Third Team All-Atlantic 10.

“Being named to those two teams was great,” Crutcher said when asked what it meant to him to be named to the Atlantic-10 All Rookie Team as a freshman and Third Team All-Atlantic 10 as a sophomore. “But I give all the credit to my teammates and coaches for trusting me and letting me go out there and play my game.”

Heading into his junior season, Crutcher has the same goals as Obi Toppin does for the team.

“Just like Obi said, winning the A-10 Tournament and going to the NCAA Tournament and competing with the high level teams,” Crutcher said.

Both Toppin and Crutcher will be the two main leaders on the Flyers this season and with them returning Dayton has a great shot at being a contender in the NCAA Tournament.

Dayton has a very tough schedule this season. They will be playing in the Maui Invitational, where they will face off against Georgia in the first round. The Georgia Bulldogs have a very good and deep team this season.

The Flyers will then play against Saint Mary’s in the Air Force Reserve Jerry Colangelo Classic on December 8th.

The last big match up for the Flyers before conference play starts will be when the Flyers take on Colorado in the Chicago Legends double header at the United Center in Chicago. Dayton will look to get its revenge on the Buffaloes from the first round of the NIT last season. 

Anthony Grant will be heading into his third season as the head coach of the Dayton Flyers. Coach Grant is the perfect coach to get the Flyers back to the NCAA Tournament. His overall head coaching record is 228-139. He was the head coach at VCU and then Alabama for a combined 9 years before becoming an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder for 2 seasons. With Dayton, Grant has a 35-29 record but was put in a bad pot when given the job and is turning the Dayton program back into what it once was. 

Dayton has the right coach and the right leadership for the team to have a very successful season this year. They will just need to transfer it onto the court once the games start.

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