Azubuike, Self receive votes for AP player, coach of the year

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) hugs Kansas head coach Bill Self after coming out of the game with seconds remaining in regulation, Wednesday, March 5, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Dayton’s Obi Toppin and Anthony Grant swept the Associated Press’ player and coach of the year honors, the AP revealed Tuesday.

But a couple of Jayhawks factored into the voting by the 65-person panel, as well.

Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike received two votes for AP Player of the Year and Kansas coach Bill Self picked up one vote for AP Coach of the Year.

Topppin received 34 votes while Iowa’s Luka Garza was next with 24 votes. Marquette’s Markus Howard (3), Azubuike (2) and Oregon’s Payton Pritchard (2) rounded out the voting.

Seven different coaches received votes, with Grant leading the way with 30 and Baylor’s Scott Drew (13) and San Diego State’s Brian Dutcher (12) a distant second and third.

Leonard Hamilton, of Florida State (6), Gonzaga’s Mark Few (2) and Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell (1) joined Self in rounding out the voting.

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

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 in school history.

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.

Toppin averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 63% from the field and 39% from 3-point range, leading a season-long surge by the Flyers that rallied a community shaken by devastating tornadoes and a deadly mass shooting in the past year.

Dayton grabbed national attention early, taking Kansas to overtime in a loss in the Maui Invitational championship game. The Flyers’ only other loss came in December on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime against Colorado. The Flyers had won 20 straight games when the season ended.

“Honestly, if you had asked me, I swear we could’ve won a national championship and our team was so ready to play in the tournament,” Toppin said. “We were so locked in. But because of this virus, things happened. It’s just going to be a what-if for the rest of our lives, but it’s something we’re going to have to live with.”

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.

“In the 31 games that we played, our guys did a heck of a job of playing consistent and taking advantage of the opportunities that were in front of us,” Grant said. “What we did accomplish in the shortened season is something I think that hopefully will be remembered.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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