For casual Gophers basketball fans, the first time they probably heard Daniel Oturu’s name was in the 2018 MSHSL Class 4A State Championship. There, Oturu’s last-second dunk secured the state title for the Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders over Tre Jones and the Apple Valley Eagles. Oturu--along with future teammates Jarvis Omersa (Orono) and Gabe Kalscheur (DeLaSalle) decided they were going to stay home and bring their talents to the University of Minnesota. Sadly, the trio is down to two after word came out on Mar. 23 that Oturu was going to forego his last two years of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. While Gophers fans are--and should be--ecstatic for Oturu, it’s going to be easy to play the “what if” game on if he stayed in the maroon and gold for another season. Oturu is projected to be a first-round pick, a well-deserved honor after averaging 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks during the 2019-20 season for Pitino and Co. Oturu’s name is now known by all fans in Minnesota but has also grabbed the attention of many in the national circuit as well. Let’s take a look at some of Oturu’s best performances in his two years as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers Men’s Basketball team.
Welcome to the league
Ten games into Daniel’s Gophers career, he began a run of double-double performances that we just grew accustomed to seeing over his 66 game collegiate career. In game No. 10, Oturu recorded 19 points and added 12 rebounds in his first double-double in a Gophers jersey. Three days later, the Gophers played--and defeated--North Florida and Oturu recorded another double-double, this time with 13 points and 11 rebounds. 10 days later, a 20/11 performance followed and in the fourth and final game of the double-double streak, Oturu had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the Gophers win over Mount St. Mary’s. Minnesota would end up going 6-0 between Dec. 5, 2018, and Jan. 3, 2019, including a win over the rival Badgers. Oturu totaled 78 points and 58 rebounds during the six-game stretch.
Is he human?
Oturu entered his sophomore year with high promise of being one of the Big Ten’s top players. He lived up to the hype and more during the season, starting things off with a bang. In the team’s first four games of the season, Oturu totaled 76 points and 47 rebounds and continued to put up monster performances, even as the Gophers record settled around .500. In game No. 47 of his career, Oturu put up his first and only 20/20 game, pulling down 20 rebounds and adding 21 points in a win over Florida International on Dec. 28, 2019.
We aren’t worthy
In the 2019-20 season, there was just one game that Oturu didn’t reach double figures in points. Between Dec. 21, 2019 and Jan. 19, 2020, Oturu scored 19 or more points in every contest, adding rebounding totals of 4, 12, 13, 8, 20, 18, 16, 10, 7, 14, and 9 during that stretch. In a tough loss to Penn State on Jan. 15, Oturu’s 26 points, 14 rebounds and 2 block performance was arguably one of the best games of his career. Games 61-66 included point totals of 22, 28, 26, 24, 10 and 24 as Oturu tried to will the team to end the season strong and make a push for postseason play. Unfortunately, the Big Ten Tournament and the rest of the season was cancelled with the Gophers as one of the teams still alive for a conference title. While a Big Ten Championship was unlikely, fans would have been able to see a couple more games of Oturu in maroon and gold before what many thought was his last year in Minnesota.
Thank you, Daniel! We appreciate you staying in Minnesota and making the University of Minnesota home, even if just for a short time. We can’t wait to watch you in the NBA and cheer you onto what we hope is a long and successful career. Once a Gopher, always a Gopher!