NCAA Basketball: Biggest takeaways from 2019 Maui Invitational

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LAHAINA, HI – NOVEMBER 27: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers is guarded by Ochai Agbaji #30 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the second half at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 27, 2019 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

Dayton – Enjoy Obi Toppin in his last NCAA Basketball season

Up to this point in the season, no individual player has upped their respective NBA Draft stock than sophomore forward Obi Toppin. Averaging over 20 ppg and eight rebounds, the dynamic athlete has been nearly unstoppable to start the season. He helped lead the Flyers to the finals of the Maui Invitational and went for 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in the overtime loss to Kansas. It was all the more impressive considering that the top-5 Jayhawks spent the entire half double-teaming the Dayton star.

Last season’s A-10 Freshman/Rookie of the Year was already considered an NBA Draft prospect and averaging around 20 and 10 would probably be good enough for a 1st round projection. But the fact that he was on the national stage and the most popular player in Maui from Monday-Wednesday has only elevated his profile in a way that’ll have us follow him and the Flyers going forward. He might not be at a Ja Morant-level from last year but don’t expect this to be the last we hear of Toppin this season.

Kansas – Ochai Agbaji unsung hero in title run

A lot of deserved praise will fall on the duo of Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike, who combined for 60 of the team’s 90 points in the overtime win. Both of them have been great overall in the three matches but another key Jayhawk was sophomore wing Ochai Agbaji. His 16 points (and pair of three-pointers early in the second half) along with quality defense was pivotal in separating from BYU in the semifinals.

And even though he scored just six points against Dayton, Agbaji played all 45 minutes while chipping in four assists and six rebounds. He’s become the Jayhawks multi-dimensional weapon, playing anytime on the court and defending just about everyone on the opposing side. The sophomore’s role will be different each game, whether it’s providing more offense, being an elite defender or whatever and clearly, Coach Bill Self has a lot of trust in him.

Next: Top 25 power rankings

There are still some issues that Kansas needs to work on, including improvement from the three-point arc along with figuring out the power forward spot when Azubuike is on the court. But for the other slight concerns, it looks like Agbaji will be used to alleviate them. For a guy who at one point was going to redshirt, the wing has grown into a key piece for this national title contender.

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