A week away from the first official college basketball practices of the upcoming season and the UNM Lobos are already getting some big news about next season.
Jadyn Toppin, a 6-foot-8 power forward with a 7-foot-1 wing span from Faith Family Academy in Oak Cliff, Texas, announced publicly on Monday he is committing to play for Richard Pitino and New Mexico Lobos next year, becoming the program’s first commitment of the Class of 2023.
“I really like the coaching staff and loved the Pit,” Toppin told the Journal. “I felt like I fit right in.”
Toppin, who told the coaching staff of his decision on Sunday and made the news official on social media on Monday, was on an official recruiting visit earlier this month and attended the Sept. 9 Lobo football game against Boise State.
COMMITTED💙❤️ @LoboCoachPitino @UNMLoboMBB @CoachBT_ @FFA_Athletics @FaithFamilyAcad @boogclay @teamtraeyoungmb @TheTB5Reports @BJenkins247 @ebosshoops @TXHSBB @TexasTop100 @TexasHoopsGASO @PrepHoopsTX @PaulBiancardi @PaulMDaRealTalk @bigsloan32 #lobos pic.twitter.com/OmChB2GCCo
— Jadyn Toppin (@JToppin5) September 19, 2022
While on his visit, he said he liked the facilities, “loved” the Pit and saw what he needed to see in how the coaches interact with the players during one of the Lobo basketball team’s workouts he watched.
“They coached them hard, and I like that,” Toppin said. “I want that. I think I can fit right into how they play.”
Recruiting service 247Sports lists Toppin as a 3-star prospect. He held scholarship offers from Arizona State, Akron, UT-Arlington, George Washington, Akron and Tulsa, among others.
So what type of player are Lobo fans going to get when Toppin arrives on campus?
He’s known as a rebounder and high-level shot blocker with his wing span one of his greatest assets, but the player comparison he offered the Journal on Monday wasn’t exactly one you’d expect from a high school senior in 2022.
“I’m a scorer — I can score in the paint,” said Toppin. “I think I play like Antawn Jamison.”
Jamison was a 6-9 All-American forward at North Carolina from 1995-98 and then a two-time All Star during a 16-year NBA career that ended in 2014.
Not exactly a player Toppin and his friends grew up watching.
“He’s a student of the game,” said Brandon Thomas, his high school coach at Faith Family Academy, which won the Class 4A state championship in Texas this past March.
“I mentioned (Jamison) to him one day and so he went and studied him and he saw the reference right away — the way he gets the ball out os his hand quickly, he’s quick off the floor. All that good stuff.”
Thomas said his quick description of Toppin as a player would be “high motor, hard worker. That high motor is going to transcend to offense, defense, he can get out in transition. He’s got really good hands, really good touch around the basket.”
Toppin said he is a back-to-the-basket power forward and enjoys defense.
Thomas described his senior forward as a versatile defender.
“We switch off ball screens here, which allows him to show he can defend different positions and different places on the floor,” Thomas said.
Toppin said he plans to sign his National Letter of Intent during the November early signing period, the first time Class of 2023 recruits can sign. UNM coaches can not comment on potential recruits until they sign.
UNM assistant Isaac Chew was on the initial recruitment of Toppin before the rest of the staff joined in.