As we await the official decisions of players to have a better picture of next season’s roster, Jacob Toppin is the latest to do.
Playing three seasons for the Wildcats, Toppin is one of the few players to do so under John Calipari. While that has had a negative connotation in the past, it is helped Toppin and his development tremendously.
Coming to Kentucky as a transfer from Rhode Island, with the maturity of a “12-year-old” - John Calipari has jokingly said - Toppin had a lot of room for growth. From day one, his athleticism was very apparent by his 42.5-inch vertical, but in order to give himself a shot at being drafted, developing his perimeter game was practically a requirement.
In his first two seasons at Kentucky, Toppin performed well in a bench role sharing time with Keion Brooks Jr., bringing energy off the bench. However, coming into this season, Brooks had transferred, and it was his turn to rise to the challenge.
Starting in the Bahamas, Toppin looked the part, even having one game where he hit five three-pointers in a game, more than he had made in either of his prior seasons at Kentucky. Yet, the season did start off the same way, in fact, he played so poorly that he began to feel so much self-inflicted pressure that he fell into a very dark mental space in late December.
However, Toppin arose and learned from that situation to become a better person and a leader, helping several of his teammates find their way out of similar situations.
Starting with the Louisville game, Toppin became one of Kentucky’s best players as many expected him to be, averaging 14 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Toward the end of the season, Toppin’s mother, Roni Toppin, told Kyle Tucker of The Athletic that he is now the “person he has always wanted to be.”
Jacob Toppin is a player who has developed more in his time at Kentucky than any player in recent memory, both on and off the court. Good luck to Jacob in the next step of his career!