clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jacob Toppin on preparing for first season with Kentucky

Toppin is ready to be a key piece of a Final Four contender.

Jacob Toppin UK Athletics

For most of the summer and early fall, it looked like Jacob Toppin would spend his first year at Kentucky on the bench.

However, the younger brother of 2020 Player of the Year Obi Toppin impressed enough in practice that, coupled with the NCAA handing out a free year of eligibility, Toppin and John Calipari decided they should get him a waiver now to play for what should be one of the nation’s top Final Four contenders.

Now, Toppin is eligible and just had his first meeting with local media Friday via Zoom. And his big brother, who’s used to having plenty of reporters around him, actually prepared his little bro for how to handle media interviews.

“I don’t know how he knew that you guys were going to ask these questions, but he was just going with the flow and I was just answering them. It was actually pretty funny because these are the questions that you guys are really asking and he was asking me the same questions,” he said.

Here is a recap of what the younger Toppin had to say via UK Athletics.

On when he decided to pursue a waiver for immediate eligibility and what the motivation was for that …

“I was taking day by day. We had all seen that practice was hard and we were all getting better every day. Coach (John Calipari) had seen that too. Me and Coach talked with each other. I talked with my family. With COVID going on right now, we decided that we should take that chance to try to get a waiver. We got that waiver, and I’m just glad that I was able to become eligible.”

On what his expectations are for this season …

“Again, I’m going to take it day by day. We’re getting better. We’re competing every day. We’re just going to believe in Coach Cal because he knows what he’s doing. We’re just going to take it day by day and hopefully we all get to play.”

On how he balances the original approach of sitting out a season to get bigger and stronger with now of being ready to play …

“I’ve been talking with our strength coach, Coach Rob (Harris). We’re going to come up with a plan where I can still lift and gain that weight and gain that muscle that I would in the offseason without playing while playing. So, we’re definitely going to figure something out because obviously it shows that I need to gain weight and muscle, so we’ll figure something out.”

On how he would compare his game to his brother, Obi Toppin, and how often he hears the Obi comparisons after the season he had last year at Dayton …

“My brother is brought up all the time. I’m always hearing his name when I’m talking to somebody. The similarities in our game, we’re very athletic and long so we use that to our advantage. We’re very energetic. We’re all over the place. We’re hustle players. We can shoot, we can drive, we can score any way we can. He’s just a lot bigger than me and that’s what I’m trying to get to. So, that’s really the only difference we have. He plays more inside than me, but I can play inside too.”

On what it was like playing against Obi last season when he was at Rhode Island and Obi was at Dayton …

“It was very fun playing against my brother because not a lot of people can do that at the DI level. We were definitely still competing against each other, but it was definitely a fun memory that I won’t forget.”

On how high he can jump and if the stories about his leaping ability are exaggerated …

“The stories are not exaggerated. I surprise myself sometimes when I jump because I’m jumping higher than I usually jump. I’m looking inside the rim every time I jump. I don’t know to explain it. Everybody in my family can jump. My dad can still dunk it. He’s 40 years old, so yeah, it’s just in our genes. It’s genetics.”

On who the best dunker is in the family …

“I would say me. My brother dunks the ball a lot harder, but I have a lot more tricks up my sleeve. I can do a lot more things. So yeah, it’s probably me.”

On transferring to Kentucky and if the attraction of playing other good players was a deciding factor …

“I have no hate towards Rhode Island. I loved my teammates. I loved my coaching staff and everything. I just felt like that I had to move on from the program. Being at Kentucky, I’m definitely playing against a group of guys that are very talented and playing against them is definitely getting me better. And then them playing against me is getting them better. So, we’re all helping each other in many different ways.”

On his relationship with his brother, Obi …

“Me and my brother probably have the strongest relationship out of everyone. Nobody is going to break our bond. Like, our bond is just so tight. I was actually on the phone with him earlier today talking about how I have an interview and he was actually like asking me questions and stuff. So, we’re always there helping each other out and stuff. We talk every day. We’re always checking up. He’s always like telling me and giving me inspirational quotes and all of these things telling me how I can better myself as a human being and as a player. So, we definitely love each other the most and we’re always helping each other every day.”

On what questions Obi asked him to help him prepare for the interview …

“Well, some of the questions you guys asked he kind of asked those questions. I don’t know how he knew that you guys were going to ask these questions, but he was just going with the flow and I was just answering them. It was actually pretty funny because these are the questions that you guys are really asking and he was asking me the same questions.”

On playing Alabama and LSU while at Rhode Island last season …

“I definitely got a taste of the waters. Playing against them was a lot different than playing against some A-10 schools because they’re a lot bigger. They’re a lot tougher and stronger and they play a lot faster. So, I mean, that’s kind of my speed. I like playing fast and I like toughness because I’m a gritty player. I like banging with people. So, it was definitely a fun moment for me and I’m definitely going to be prepared for when we play them again.”

On which teammates have impressed him thus far …

“Again, everybody. We all have like good days. But, someone who most impresses me would probably be Isaiah (Jackson). He’s very long and he’s everywhere. He’s active. He’s getting blocks, getting blocks all of the time. He’s rebounding the ball very well. He’s definitely going to be a big factor for us. I like his game because he can play inside out and outside in. He’s very long and athletic so I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him and all of my other teammates.”

On what impact he can have on the team …

“I can bring a lot to the table. I’m athletic. I can space the floor if I’m playing at the four. I can play multiple positions. I’m a great defender, I believe, with my length and my speed. I can move and play in front of anybody. I’m smart. I can think the game very well. When I’m on the court, I can help my other teammates who need help. So, I bring a good amount to the team.”

On something he can do on the floor that his brother cannot and what’s something he likes about his brother’s game that he wants to add …

“I definitely think the game more. My IQ is very high. I could play more of the two, three (positions) and I don’t think that he can. I definitely say that something I’d take from him is his post moves. His post moves are very good and he just knows how to read post play. He could pass out of the post and he can just play the post very well. So, I think that if I got better at that then I would be a great player.”