When Daniel Oturu committed in January 2017, it was the first time a high school big man from Minnesota would become a Gopher under Richard Pitino, but it wouldn't be the last.
Oturu, a 6-10 center from Cretin-Derham Hall, should play major minutes as a freshman next season. Orono's 6-8 pogostick Jarvis Omersa joins is another potential impact post from Minnesota in 2018.
The two highest priority Class of 2019 players for the Gophers are 6-foot-9 forwards Matthew Hurt from Rochester John Marshall and Zeke Nnaji from Hopkins.
On Monday, Pitino offered Prior Lake’s 6-10 Dawson Garcia and East Ridge’s 6-9 Ben Carlson, both four-star Class of 2020 big men. Park Center's 6-8 sophomore Dain Dainja was offered as well by the home state school later in the night.
"I'm excited about the Minnesota offer," Carlson said Monday night. "They have a lot of good things coming for them, so it's an exciting time for the program. I'm looking forward to getting to know their staff better as well."
It hasn't been too hard for Pitino to see Hurt, Nnaji, Garcia and Carlson during the spring live period, because they're all playing for the same AAU program. D1 Minnesota has six players with Gopher offers, including 2019 DeLaSalle point guard Tyrell Terry and 2019 Lakeville North wing Tyler Wahl, who received the offer just last week.
You can bet the D1 Minnesota crew will be following how the Gophers 2018 local class (including DeLaSalle guard Gabe Kalschuer) fares next season. Oturu sent a congratulatory tweet to Carlson on Monday night for the local offer.
"It's cool I got to play against him these past two years," Carlson said of Oturu. "He's a great guy and he'll be fun to watch in college."
Imagine a Gopher frontcourt deep with Minnesota talent one day like Jim Dutcher had in the 1970s and 1980s. It could happen if Oturu and Omersa can help Pitino lure others from the 2019 and 2020 classes to join them at Williams Arena.
Back during the Big Man U days, the Gophers featured future NBA bigs such as Kevin McHale, Randy Breuer and Jim Petersen. There was no reason for Dutcher to look outside of the state for frontcourt talent. That time could be coming again soon for Pitino.