When Daniel Oturu committed to Richard Pitino and the University of Minnesota 3 years ago, he was manna from MN Basketball heaven for Gopher fans. A top-50 national talent, that was grown here in Minnesota and decided to play for the maroon and gold, was something to celebrate, especially with all of the young basketball talent coming through Minnesota behind him. While Oturu may not have convinced a lot of the talent behind him to play for their home Gophers, he’s doing everything he can on the floor in his Sophomore season, to put Minnesota (and by default, himself) on the national map.
The guy is averaging an absolutely absurd stat-line this season and destroying his output from 2018-19 (via espn).
I mean, let’s take a closer look at some of these numbers… Daniel Oturu was a starter last season, just remember that. In 9 additional minutes per game, Oturu has improved both his rebounds and points per game by a ridiculous 77%, from 7 to 12.4 RPG and from 10.8 to 19.1 PPG. Meanwhile, his blocks per game have increased 138%, up from 1.3 last season to 3.1 in 2019-20. His assists are also up and so are both his free throw and shooting percentages.
He’s been everything Richard Pitino could have hoped for…. and needed.
But, Minnesota Gopher Men’s Basketball fans aren’t the only ones who are taking notes on Oturu’s absurd season, early on. A few days ago, a well-known NBA Draft website (NBADraft.net) updated their 2020 NBA Mock Draft, where Daniel Oturu made his debut…. at #10 overall.
After seeing this, I went digging and couldn’t find Daniel on any other mock draft currently. I expect that to change over the next couple weeks though, as other outlets start to take notice. For example, HoopsHype.com released an article today with their “Hidden Gems” of the 2020 NBA Draft and you only have to scroll down one time to find our man, Daniel Oturu.
Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu is averaging 19.1 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. He has the best defensive rebound percentage (27.2 percent) in the Big Ten Conference. Meanwhile, he is averaging 3.0 blocks per game as well and his block percentage (9.4 percent) ranks third-best in the conference. On the offensive side of the ball, Oturu has connected on 80-of-98 (81.6 percent) attempts within five feet of the basket. That currently ranks as the third-best (minimum: 80 FGA) among all college basketball players. He has also shown some improvement as a potential pick-and-pop option at the next level. There is enough upside on both offense and defense to make him a draftable player potentially even in the first round, especially with his size.
Something to remember here, is that Daniel Oturu reportedly loves college. Richard Pitino was just on KFAN yesterday talking about just that. He said that he doesn’t come across kids everyday who enjoy college as much as Dan. That’s a big deal because Dan has a lot of improving to do in his game. If he really does love being on campus that much, he could decide to further his skills with an improving Gophers roster, rather than taking the money early and risking the unknowns of the NBA before he is suredly ready. We also know that bringing a deep NCAA Tournament run to his homestate is something that Oturu values more than many others, who hail from the state of maroon and gold. Nonetheless, it would be hard to turn down a future in the NBA as a top-ten pick, if that’s really where he is projected by the end of the season.
Pitino also talked about Daniel being mentioned in draft rumors over the last day or two, today in his press conference. Marcus Fuller of the Star Tribune has a video of that on Twitter:
Richard Pitino on conversations he had with #Gophers center Daniel Oturu being projected in a mock draft as a 1st round pick and how he can help his draft stock by finishing season strong. @StribSports @GopherMBB @oturu65 pic.twitter.com/lWt2kE7kg3— Marcus R. Fuller (@Marcus_R_Fuller) January 8, 2020
Also…. I’d have to smile a little bit if Oturu does enter the draft this year and he goes ahead of other Minnesota guys like Zeke Njaji or Matthew Hurt, who chose to move to more blue blood schools like Arizona and Duke, respectively.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan
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