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Toppin over Garza for AP top honor

Obi Toppin and Anthony Grant spent the season transforming Dayton from an unranked team that wasn’t even picked to win its conference into one of the nation’s best, complete with the most wins in program history.

The pair behind the Flyers’ remarkable rise claimed The Associated Press’ top individual honors: Toppin is the men’s college basketball player of the year and Grant is coach of the year.

“Our team is very appreciative of what we accomplished,” Toppin told the AP, “just because we made history at our school.”

Indeed. Dayton (29-2) went from being picked to finish third in the Atlantic 10 to No. 3 in the final Top 25 poll, matching the program’s best poll finish, first set in 1956. The Flyers went unbeaten in league play and in road games, leaving them positioned to claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament that was canceled amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Now Dayton has its first winners of the AP’s top awards, joining St. Joseph’s in 2004 (with Jameer Nelson and coach Phil Martelli) as the only programs in the past 40 seasons to claim both in the same year.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Toppin followed his unanimous selection to the AP All-America first team by appearing on 34 of 65 ballots from Top 25 voters, who submitted ballots after the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa junior Luka Garza was second in the balloting, earning 24 votes after averaging 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Hawkeyes. Fellow All-Americans Markus Howard of Marquette, Payton Pritchard of Oregon and Udoka Azubuike of Kansas split the remaining votes.

Grant earned 30 of 65 votes to claim the AP coaching award in his third season at his alma mater. Baylor’s Scott Drew, who guided the Bears to a 23-game winning streak and five weeks at No. 1, was second with 13 votes.

San Diego State’s Brian Dutcher was third with 12 votes after leading the Aztecs to a 26-0 start, followed by Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton – who earned six votes after leading the Seminoles to their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.

Oregon’s Ionescu wins

women’s honor unanimously

Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu is AP women’s player of the year

Sabrina Ionescu capped off a unprecedented college career by entering an exclusive club.

Oregon’s star guard was a unanimous choice Monday as The Associated Press women’s basketball player of the year, receiving all 30 votes from the national media panel that selects the Top 25 each week during the season. Since the award was first given in 1995, the only other player to receive all the votes is former UConn star Breanna Stewart.

“That’s pretty crazy. Someone I look up to and have a good relationship with,” Ionescu told the AP. “To be in that class with her is an honor.”

Ionescu, who was only the eighth player to earn AP All-American honors three times, shattered the NCAA career triple-double mark and became the first player in college history to have 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.

Ioenscu came back for her senior season, saying she had unfinished business and hopes of winning a NCAA title. She averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds this season as well as having eight of her 26 career triple-doubles.

Ionescu guided Oregon to a 31-2 mark this past season, which ended prematurely with the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic.

While Ionescu was a unanimous choice, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley received 20 votes from the panel to win the AP’s coach of the year award for the first time. Northwestern coach Joe McKeown was second with five votes, Graves garnered four ballots and North Carolina State’s Wes Moore received one.