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Kentucky Basketball

Jacob Toppin Has Committed to Kentucky

April 16, 2020

For just the fourth time in his tenure at Kentucky, John Calipari will add a non-graduate transfer to the roster. Jacob Toppin, a 6-foot-8, 190 pound forward, committed to Kentucky via his Instagram. He joins Ryan Harrow, Eloy Vargas, and Twany Beckham as the fourth traditional transfer to find their way to Kentucky. His status for the upcoming season isn't solidified yet, with the NCAA continuing to deliberate on their one-time transfer rule. Regardless of his eligibility for next year's team, he will provide a piece for the UK frontcourt to work with for the next few years. 

In his freshman season at Rhode Island, Toppin averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while playing 18.5 minutes. Of those 3.9 rebounds, 1.4 came on the offensive end.

For those that watched his older brother Obi this year at Dayton (and if you didn't, you missed out), Jacob flashes a similar game. Like his brother, Toppin is an athletic big who feasts on the offensive glass and uses his athleticism in the dunker spot to get buckets around the rim. Toppin averaged 58% on his 76 two-point field goal attempts, yet shot just 24.5% on 53 three-point attempts. It is clear he is looking to become a threat from the outside, but his outside game will need to develop significantly before he becomes a real threat from deep. 

On defense, he maintains his athleticism, taking advantage of weakside block opportunities and altering shots around the rim. While he isn't as tall as Kentucky's premier shot blockers in the past, he should still be able to have a Marcus Lee-type impact on the defensive end, providing energy and athleticism to Kentucky's backline. 

Another significant part of Toppin's addition is that it shows an evolution of John Calipari's coaching philosophy. Even if he cannot play, which is what the coaching staff is expecting, Toppin is the 10th scholarship player that Kentucky will have on the roster next year, meaning they will have a complete roster for practices. Calipari, who is notorious for leaving scholarships open, is also looking to add Purdue grad-transfer Matt Haarms, which would give the Cats 11 scholarship players and 10 eligible players for the 2020-2021 season and provide bench depth that is rarely seen on a Calipari team. 

Jacob Toppin likely won't have a major impact on the 2020-2021 season, but his addition is a multi-year investment and should be a great move by Calipari in the long run. Even if he isn't ruled immediately eligible, Toppin can provide athleticism and size on the practice floor while honing his skills and getting acquainted with the program. After an offseason where over 90% of Kentucky's production will not be returning, Toppin's continuity will be one of his most significant contributions, regardless of what he accomplishes on the floor immediately. 

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