The Minnesota Golden Gophers got some tough news earlier this week as the program learned that big man Daniel Oturu would not be returning to school after declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft. He leaves the Gophers after building himself quite a legacy with the program.
University of Minnesota sophomore F/C Daniel Oturu plans to enter the 2020 NBA Draft, he tells ESPN. https://t.co/EhPEbQUbMx— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 23, 2020
During his two seasons with the program, Oturu started 62 games and averaged 15.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. He helped led the Gophers to the NCAA Tournament in 2019, where the team made it to the Round of 32 after defeating Louisville, and put together one of the program’s best single season performances of all-time in 2019-’20.
It’s unclear what Oturu’s potential is at the next level, but he does seem to be a legitimate first round talent. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie projected him in the late first round in a recent mock draft and most of the other NBA folks have Oturu in the same range. Workouts and his offseason regime will determine whether he can sneak into the first round.
For Minnesota, this will be a huge loss for Richard Pitino and his staff. The Gophers were better than their record this year, but the team still finished 15-16 overall in the shortened season and relied heavily on Oturu’s contributions even to get there. The big man dominated the team’s offensive possessions last year. Minnesota will now have to figure out how to improve without its best player, which isn’t exactly an easy task.
Minnesota will certainly find a way to move on in the weeks and months to come, but for now, Gopher fans will have to deal with moving forward without their star center.