INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) For the first time since the 2003-04 season, the winners of the Oscar Robertson Trophy and Henry Iba Award come from the same school as Dayton sophomore forward Obi Toppin and head coach Anthony Grant headline this season's individual award winners in voting by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
Dayton captured the nation's interest early in the season as Toppin, a consensus All-American and one of the country's top shooters, and Grant guided the Flyers on a 20-game win streak to close the regular season, a school-record 29 wins and the Atlantic 10 Conference title with a school-record 18-0 conference mark.
There have been 10 same-school pairs of the national player and coach of the year since the USBWA began awarding both in the 1958-59 season. The last time was 2004 when Jameer Nelson and coach Phil Martelli of St. Joseph's were honored, and the Toppin-Grant pair is only the second same-school duo in the 36 seasons since Chris Mullin and coach Lou Carnesecca of St. John's won the awards in 1985.
Vernon Carey Jr., Duke's standout center, earned the Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation's top freshman. Carey was a second team selection to the USBWA All-America team and gives the Blue Devils consecutive Wayman Tisdale Award winners following Zion Williamson last year.
"I would like to congratulate Obi Toppin, Vernon Carey and Anthony Grant as the winners of the USBWA's player, freshman and coach of the year awards." said USBWA President Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard. "Your seasons obviously didn't end the way any of us would have liked, but you are all still to be congratulated for having such outstanding seasons."
The three winners were to be formally presented at the USBWA College Basketball Awards Dinner hosted by the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis before the event had to be cancelled.
Toppin, a 6-9 sophomore from Brooklyn, N.Y., is Dayton's first Oscar Robertson Trophy winner, and only the third overall from the A-10 (Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph's, 2003-04 and David West of Xavier, 2002-03). He is a USBWA All-America first team selection as Dayton's first All-American since Jim Paxson in the 1978-79 season. Toppin won the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year honor after averaging 20.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He shot 64.4 percent in league play and his 63.3-percent shooting for the season was the fifth-best mark nationally.
An electric performer who led the nation with 107 dunks, Toppin is the first sophomore to win the Oscar Robertson Trophy since the 2012-13 season when Michigan guard Trey Burke earned it. Four seniors won the honor following Burke, but now three consecutive underclassmen have won the trophy since. Toppin is one of three unanimous All-Americans along with Iowa center Luka Garza and Seton Hall guard Myles Powell as determined by the four major awarding organizations: the USBWA, Associated Press, NABC and The Sporting News. He is the school's first consensus All-American.
Grant, a former team captain and MVP at his alma mater, led Dayton to a school-record 29 wins against only two losses, both of which came on neutral floors and in overtime, including one to top-ranked Kansas. The Flyers were picked third in the A-10 preseason poll but ascended to No. 3 in both final polls after a perfect conference season that earned Dayton its third conference title in the last five years. Dayton's 20-game win streak that ended up closing its season was the nation's longest active streak in Division I is currently tied with the school record from the 1951-52 season. Grant is the fourth coach from the A-10 to win the Henry Iba Award and the first since Martelli (2004) joined Temple's John Chaney in 1987 and '88.
Carey Jr., a 6-10 freshman from Southwest Ranches, Fla. in greater Miami, was the only player ranked in the Atlantic Coast Conference's top 10 in scoring (third, 17.8 ppg), rebounding (fourth, 8.8), field goal percentage (first, .577) and blocked shots (sixth, 1.6). The ACC Freshman of the Year was the only freshman on the 15-man USBWA All-America team and posted 15 double-doubles on the season, second among NCAA freshmen and second in the ACC. Ten of his double-doubles were 20-10 performances and he was in the top four among freshmen nationally in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounds.
Carey Jr.'s honor marks the third time that a school has had back-to-back Tisdale Award winners and it's the second from Duke (Jabari Parker in 2014, Jahlil Okafor in 2015). The Blue Devils now have five all-time Tisdale Award winners no other school has more than two · and Duke players have now won four of the last seven awards.
The Oscar Robertson Trophy, Henry Iba Award and Wayman Tisdale Award are voted on by the entire membership of the association, which consists of more than 900 journalists. The Oscar Robertson Trophy is the nation's oldest award. The legendary Oscar Robertson was the USBWA's first player of the year in 1959 and was the consensus national player of the year as a sophomore in 1958, the year before the USBWA started giving its player of the year award. The USBWA renamed the award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in 1998.
The Henry Iba Award is named in honor of the legendary coaching great at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) who won two NCAA championships and two gold medals and one silver as coach of the U S. Olympic teams.
The USBWA has chosen a national freshman of the year award since the 1988-89 season. It was named the Wayman Tisdale Award in honor of the late three-time USBWA All-American at Oklahoma and the first freshman to receive first-team All-America honors from the USBWA.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. Today, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. For more information on the USBWA and its awards programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at 814-574-1485.