StaTuesday: Recapping Oturu’s spectacular sophomore season with Gophers
When the Big Ten conference announced its All-Conference first team Monday afternoon, one significant name was missing from the six-player list of Iowa’s Luka Garza, Maryland’s Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and Penn State’s Lamar Stevens.
Where was Minnesota’s standout center Daniel Oturu?
Oturu was named to the Big Ten second team, but it was still surprising — and perhaps a bit insulting — to be snubbed of a first-team nod.
After all, the Woodbury, Minn., native and former Cretin-Derham Hall star led the conference in field-goal percentage (.562) and total rebounds (11.4), offensive boards (3.8) and blocked shots (2.5) per contest.
Oturu also ranked second in points per game (20.0) right behind Garza (23.9) and finished fourth in the Big Ten in minutes per game (34.1).
“I thought the 5 best players should be 1st team?” Oturu tweeted Monday afternoon. He later deleted the post.
We get it, Dan.
The sophomore was the fourth Gophers player to average a double-double since the 1992-93 season, joining Kris Humphries (2003-04), Trevor Mbakwe (2010-11) and Jordan Murphy (2017-18, 2018-19).
Oturu and Humphries are the only two Gophers players to log 20+ points and 10+ rebounds per contest. Humphries averaged 21.7 points and 10.1 rebounds as a freshman in 2003-04 and went on to be selected 14th overall by Utah in the 2004 NBA draft.
But we’ve never seen a Gophers player score, rebound and block shots like Oturu did this season. Humphries, Mbakwe and Murphy never blocked more than 1.5 shots per game.
In fact, Oturu is the 20th player in NCAA Division I hoops since the 1992-93 season to average 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and 2+ blocks per game and just the fourth in the last decade.
Other notable names on this list: Tim Duncan (1996-97), Chris Kaman (2002-03), Michael Olowokandi (sorry Wolves fans; 1997-98), Joe Smith (1994-95) and Pascal Siakam (2015-16).
Only four players managed to post those numbers as an underclassman.
Oturu was undoubtedly snubbed of first-team recognition, but he can right this wrong by leading the Gophers to a playoff run in the upcoming Big Ten tournament.
Minnesota opens postseason play Wednesday as the No. 12 seed against No. 13 Northwestern. Fifth-seeded Iowa awaits the winner on Thursday.