Q&A: Oturu: "I grew up a Gopher fan. I've always wanted to wear the maroon and gold."

GopherHole Staff

GopherHole Admin
Nov 3, 2008
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Q&A: Oturu: "I grew up a Gopher fan. I've always wanted to wear the maroon and gold."

Q&A: Daniel Oturu: "I grew up a Gopher fan. I've always wanted to wear the maroon and gold."
By Chris Monter


Daniel Oturu, a 6-foot-9 junior center from St. Paul (MN) Cretin-Derham Hall, committed to Minnesota Thursday afternoon at the press conference at his high school. He picked the Gophers over Kansas, Nebraska, Baylor, Georgia Tech and Memphis.

Oturu is one of the top big men in the Midwest in the Class of 2018 and is considered the number two prospect from Minnesota in the class. Oturu received a scholarship offer from Minnesota last summer.

Oturu is averaging 17.2 points, 18.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 5.3 blocked shots per game for the Raiders, who are off to an 8-4 start. He scored in double figures in all 12 games with four games of 20 or more points, including a season-best 27 points versus Eden Prairie. Oturu has grabbed double figure rebounds in every game with four games of 20 or more rebounds, including a season-high 26 versus St. Paul Central.

Gopher Hole was at Oturu's press conference when he announced his commitment to Minnesota.

Oturu opened the press conference with an opening statement.

"I would like to thank everyone for coming today as I make my college decision. This has been a journey over the last few years. This has been the experience of a lifetime. I would personally like to thank some people who have positively impacted my life and for the opportunity to make this possible. My family. My mom and dad. My siblings, Priscilla, David and Eunice. My CDH coaches, Coach (Jerry) Kline, Coach Yaz (Tony Yasbeck), Coach (Mark) Gautschi and coach Hutch (Joe Hutchins). The CDH administration, Mr. Miley (superintendent Francis Miley), Md. Passman (principal Mona Passman). Miss Bellus. Mr. Leseman, Mr. Brewer and Mr. Bennett. I want to thank the CDH faculty, especially Mr. Pike. My teammates, both at CDH and Howard Pulley. I want to thank someone that has inspired me a lot to start to play the game, Mr. Doug Johnson and I want to thank all the other college that recruited me. You have helped me so much, that I can't thank you guys enough. With that being said, I am excited to announce my commitment to play college basketball for Coach Richard Pitino."

Question: What was it about Minnesota that made you realize this is where you wanted to be?

Minnesota is my home state, the homestate school. I felt really loved by the coaches there. Just having the opportunity to play in front of the people who watched me growing up. My family can come to my games and my friends, it really just meant the world to me.

Question: Did you feel like you were their top priority in 2018 Class?

Yes. I felt like I was the top guy that they really wanted to come to their school. So that made a priority Just having the pride to play for your state.

Question: What impact did the team success this season have in your decision?

Their growth, the team, watching someone that I have grown up watching, Amir Coffey, who went to Hopkins and who is playing at a high level at the U, is really good and impacted my decision.

Question: What did Amir say to you about Minnesota?

He just told me to make the decision that I felt was the best. He never pressured me to come to the U or anything. He just told me to go with my gut

Question: How long have you been following the Gophers?

I have been following the Gophers all my life. I grew up a Gopher fan. I've always wanted to wear the maroon and gold. It just means a lot.

Question: With the season that they are having, they have a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament. Talk about the future of the program with a young team, what are the expectations?

When I get there, my expectation is to go to the (NCAA) tournament. Try to win it. Just to continue to win and get better every day. That is a big thing.

Question: How did you break the news to Coach Pitino and Coach Johnson?

I called them earlier just to let them know that it is official.

Question: What was their reaction?

They were pretty excited.

Question: The signing date is in November. What was the reason for making the decision now?

I felt like I didn't really need to waste any time, if I already knew where I wanted to go and where I wanted to be, so I felt liking making the decision now is the best choice.

Question: Hopefully, your decision, like Amir's, will help other Minnesota kids decide to stay home.

I hope to get some other classmates to come with me, too.

Question: Are you going to take the lead with that?

Since I'm committed now and they see that I'm going there, hopefully, I can start recruiting them to come with me.

Question: Did you want to get this decision out of the way, so you can focus on your junior season the rest of the year?

Yes. I felt that if I did it now, would help me a lot with, I could focus more at school and take a lot of pressure off and worry about school and my teammates, about winning this year.

Question: How hard was it to say no to the other schools? You had some other pretty good opportunities.

It was pretty hard. I had some good options, but, ultimately, I feel at peace with my choice.

Question: Has Coach talked about your role coming in. Obviously, Amir is playing a lot as a freshman. What are you hoping to do your first year there as a freshman?

My first year there, I hope to make a huge impact right away. It doesn't matter if I am starting or coming off the bench. Just anytime I am in the game. Just giving my all.

Question: How much has the perception of Minnesota changed in the last couple of years, because they have hard a hard time getting in-state kids, but Amir went and now you are following. Reggie Lynch comes back home. Has that changed? Have you seen your friends talk about that Minnesota is now considered a good place for kids from this state to go to.

Yes. I have talked about it with a couple of classmates like Tre Jones, Race Thompson and Gabe Kalscheur. We all talked about how we can help this program a lot, if we all came here. It would mean a lot. Obviously, it is ultimately their decision to go. I've already made mine. I have always talked about playing for the "U" should mean a lot to someone who is from here, especially when you have everybody watching you now with a U of M on your jersey.

Question: When you look at your game, how much do things have to improve for you to be competitive at that level? How close do you think you are right now?

I think I am really close. I think that I could play there right now, not to sound too cocky or nothing. "I feel like I just need to work on my perimeter game, just to be able to hit more consistent jump shots and threes and get my ball-handling straight, so I can be able to push the ball if a guard isn't able to come to the ball or I can control the offense in my game.

Question: Reggie Lynch will be gone at Minnesota when you get there. Is that something you kind of looked at that maybe you can step in fairly quickly at Minnesota?

Yes. I have looked at that. I realized that he wouldn't be there when I get there, so to me, I have a good chance to start right away, but if that's not the case, like I said, any way I can help the team. I'm going to do it.

Question: This past recruiting season, they weren't able to get local guys to come there. Did that influence your decision like before this to think about those guys that didn't come and maybe I want to be the guy that bridges that gap between Amir and the junior class.

Yes. They didn't get anyone from the 2017 Class from in-state, so I was like "Dang, I want to be the next one. I feel like I pride myself a lot in Minnesota, so I felt like I needed to take that next step. I felt the most comfortable here with my decision.

Question: When you talked to Tre and Gabe about potentially coming to Minnesota. Could you tell us a little bit more about that conversation?

I've talked to Gabe mostly about it. I don't really know what is going through his head about where he wants to go or not, but I just told him, I've said it a lot, but just playing for Minnesota should mean a lot to someone who is from here. Having people who have seen you play all your life, should mean a lot.

Question: Like I said, there are still a lot of guys, young guys, who will still be around and they didn't get anybody out of 2017, but you know Isaiah Washington and some of the recruits in school will be there with you. Is that exciting that there is a lot of young talent players.

Yes, Isaiah Washington is a great guard. The younger guys in the state like Matthew Hurt and Jalen Suggs. Hopefully, I can get them to play, too. I am going to try my best to recruit them.

Question: Have you talked to Tre, Race and Gabe since you made your decision?

I talked to Race, Gabe and Tre about my decision. They were really happy. Race is like, I kind of expected it. They were just really excited for me and happy that I choose to come here.

Question: I know that Kansas offered you, too. Was that kind of overwhelming at the time, a big time program like that. Maybe a relationship that you still had to build, that you didn't maybe have with Baylor or Minnesota.

When Kansas offered me, I was really excited. Really happy. As time went on though, my relationship with the U of M continued to build and it just felt like home. Like a second home, even though I live 20 minutes from campus. It just felt like somewhere I could go, if I needed anything.
Question: Can you talk a little about your family?

My parents are leaders in the church. They are amazing people. They are from Nigeria. They moved here to the U.S. to live a better life. It just means so much to them that I am staying home. I love all of my family. I'll love them to the day I die. I just want to make them proud. It means a lot to me.


Active member
Jan 21, 2010
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Nice young man and it will be a lot of fun seeing him play.


Active member
Feb 3, 2009
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Watched some interviews of him on youtube. Seems like a great young man. Excited to see how he turns out.


Active member
Nov 24, 2008
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Wow I have heard a lot about his game but didn't know a lot about him other than that. Sounds like a great young man!


Well-known member
Nov 20, 2008
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The Oturu commitment (and his subsequent comments) has been like a ray of sunshine in a very dreary 3 weeks for this program. Watched him against Reuvers in this highlight and came away really encouraged.



Active member
May 9, 2009
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Can't wait for him to get on campus. So excited about our recent recruiting.
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