The Wildcats picked up an important transfer Thursday when Jacob Toppin announced he’d be rocking Kentucky blue.
Perhaps the most fascinating part of the Toppin was the video UK released right after his commitment. It’s the usual ‘little kid looking at a former star UK player and dreaming big’ video. But in this instance, the player featured in the video was Kevin Knox:
And frankly, there may not be a better for Toppin to emulate than Knox, one of the more versatile players in the John Calipari era. Knox could make an impact as a stretch 4, a big wing, a small-ball 5 vs. smaller teams, and even a shooting guard in certain situations.
Knox arrived at UK as a lean 6-8, 197-pound small forward from Florida who went on to become an All-America honorable mention and Co-SEC Freshman of the Year before being selected ninth overall by the New York Knicks in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Seeing Toppin’s highlights, you can definitely see flashes of Knox, though Knox was definitely a better shooter (34.1% from deep as a freshman at UK compared to 24.5% for Toppin as a freshman at Rhode Island) and a better defender.
However, I will give the edge to Toppin in terms of athleticism. He’s an absolute freak who gets so high on his dunks that his eyes are at the rim.
Toppin also had arguably his two best performances as a freshman against SEC teams, going for 11 points in a win over Alabama and 10 in a loss to LSU, so he’s already had success in the league he’ll play in for potentially several years. He still looks like a guy who will need a year or two in UK’s system before he starts to really tap into his potential.
Toppin clearly looks like someone who can become an impact player for UK, especially working under John Calipari and Kenny Payne. But patience will be required before we see him become the kind of star Knox became in Lexington.