StaTuesday: Gophers center Daniel Oturu’s start to 2019-20 season
Following the 2018-19 season that saw head coach Richard Pitino capture his first NCAA tournament win in Minnesota, the Gophers knew they’d be searching for an identity in 2019-20.
After all, Jordan Murphy graduated and Amir Coffey decided to forego his final year of collegiate eligibility and enter the 2019 NBA draft.
All eyes turned to Gophers sophomore center Daniel Oturu.
Oturu, the former four-star recruit out of Cretin-Derham Hall who was one of the few Minnesota-grown talents to stay home rather than enroll elsewhere, was going to have his hands full trying to lead the Gophers back to the big dance with a rather green roster.
Midway through the 2019-20 season, Oturu has answered the call.
The 6-foot-8 big man is averaging 19.9 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game while shooting 62.6% from the field. Oturu has also posted a double-double in 10 of 16 games.
Let’s take a closer look at that stat line.
Only two players in college basketball since the 1992-93 season have posted 19+ points, 12+ rebounds, 3+ blocks per game and shot over 60% from the field: Chris Kaman and Tim Duncan.
Kaman averaged 22.4 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game as a junior at Central Michigan in 2002-03. He went on to be selected sixth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003.
Duncan achieved the feat as a senior at Wake Forest, posting averages of 20.8 points, 14.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game while shooting 60.8% from the field. Duncan, of course, was the top pick in the 1997 draft and went on to win two league MVPs, five NBA championships and was a 15-time All-Star.
If Oturu can finish the season where he’s at now, he’ll be just the fifth Big Ten player since 1992 to log 19+ points and 10+ rebounds per contest.
One of those five players to do so is Kris Humphries, the last Gophers player to be drafted (14th overall in 2004).
Luka Garza, currently a junior at Iowa, is on pace to join Oturu on this list as well.
* season in progress
So, what does this mean for Oturu?
Nothing yet, but it does bode well for his future. NBADraft.net currently has Oturu projected to be a top-10 pick in this year’s draft, and he’s listed on a number of “hidden gems” lists.
Future decisions aside, head coach Richard Pitino must be pleased with the production of his biggest in-state recruit since his tenure in Minnesota began seven years ago.