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Rams Commit Jacob Toppin: “URI Felt Like Home to Me”

Jacob Toppin, Photo Courtesy of URI

Jacob Toppin, a 6-7 forward from Ossining, NY, committed to the Rhode Island program last weekend. He’s a long, 185-pound, rangy forward who can shoot it from the deep and possesses good ball skills. He’s used to playing on the perimeter, having grown seven inches – from just six-feet – within the last two years.

I recently caught up with Toppin to discuss his commitment to David Cox and the Rams program. Here’s what the wing had to say:

Chris DiSano: Congrats on your commitment. What attracted you to the Rhode Island program?

Jacob Toppin: When I came on my visit, I liked the atmosphere here, I liked the coaching staff and the players were very cool. I felt comfortable here and I felt that this would be the best fit for my playing style and helping me develop.

CD: These days, 18 different recruiting sites and services seem to have 17 different lists. Who, besides Rhode Island, did you feel was recruiting you the most aggressively?

JT: Probably St. John’s. St. John’s contacted me later in the process but I felt like they really wanted me there. But since it was so late, I felt more comfortable with Rhode Island because URI felt like home to me.

CD: What relationships did you form with staff or players during the recruiting process and what was your impression of campus? I believe assistant coach Ty Boswell formed a great relationship with you, correct?

JT: Yes, Coach Ty was the lead recruiter. He always texted me and was in consistent communication. Coach Cox always reached out to see how I was doing. They were heavily invested in my decision and seeing how I was doing, so that definitely meant a lot. When I came in for a visit, the players were cool and I asked them questions about the school itself. And they were able to tell me how they really enjoyed being here. I was able to see many places on campus and I felt the atmosphere was very relaxed. There was no negative energy. No hatred. It was nice seeing that… I like a relaxed environment where people are chill.

CD: For those unfamiliar with it, can you describe your game?

JT: I’m a small forward, 3-man, with length who can help spread the floor. It’s difficult for defenders to guard me because I can post guards or take bigs off the dribble. I feel like I’m versatile in that way. At this level, I see myself playing around the perimeter because of my shooting ability.

CD: What’s one area of your game besides getting stronger or adjusting to the speed of the college game – which everyone has to do as a freshman – that you want to focus on?

JT: Probably defense. I haven’t been good defensively in the past but have gotten a lot better at it lately. I’ve gotten better at using my length to my advantage, but I think I still have a lot of improving to do. I’ve gotten better at reading players on their next move, but I need to get quicker laterally because my hips are very tight. But that runs in the family with me and my brother (Obi), so as I can loosen up that way and get better laterally I’ll see improvement on defense.

CD: What are you looking to learn from your upperclassmen teammates this year, guys like Jeff Dowtin who have years of experience at this level?

JT: I hope to learn how to see the basketball game better. How to see the whole floor and movement of players; how everything fits together. Being able to see everything out there.

CD: It’s no secret that your brother Obi had a great year last year at Dayton, being named the A-10 Rookie of the Year. You, like him, have been described as a “late bloomer”. What do you make of that label and how has your game grown recently?

JT: It definitely helped a lot being a late bloomer because as a young kid I was a point guard because I was always the smallest kid. But as I’ve grown I’ve become a “big” but with guard skills and shooting skills. So it’s made it easier to play.

CD: How much taller have you grown the last couple of years?

JT: I grew four inches my senior year of high school and another two to three inches during my prep year. Now I’m 6-7.

CD: If your brother remains at Dayton and doesn’t go pro, how special would that be to square off against him next year? And how about the fact that both of you made your way to the A-10 generally?

JT: That would be a crazy experience. It would be a fun game to play in and I’d be looking forward to it if he went back to school. It would also be a little difficult too, because that’s my brother… but would be crazy. Also, everyone sees that my brother has done so well in the A-10 and I feel like I have to reach those standards…I’m excited to take on the challenge.

CD: Let’s land here… What is one thing about you personally that you’d like to share with URI fans?

JT: I think I have a good sense of humor. I tend to make people laugh and like to spread good vibes.