Daniel Oturu, as he has done all season, showed why Gophers fans are so excited to have the big man on campus next season.
The 6-10 Cretin-Derham Hall center averaged 21.7 points, 9 rebounds and 6.3 blocks in three Class 4A state tournament games — with the last two of those points coming on a dunk with 0.5 seconds left to give the Raiders a 79-78 win in a thrilling championship game Saturday over Apple Valley.
There were plenty of standout players and performances in the tournament, but Oturu was clearly at or near the top. But when the 10-member Class 4A all-tournament team was named and released shortly after the championship game, Oturu was not on it, though three of his teammates were. So what gives?
The Minnesota State High School League news release says the team was selected by “media attending the tournament,” but it’s hard to fathom many — if any — media folks leaving Oturu off the list. Indeed, it’s rather informal but KDHL radio in Faribault conducted a quick survey of area media members after Oturu was left off the team and concluded, “Everyone I spoke with said they voted for him.”
As it turns out, Oturu was left of the team because of what was deemed a sportsmanship issue. Oturu received a technical foul in the first half of the title game for shoving Apple Valley star Tre Jones.
Here's the scrum involving former Pulley teammates, Daniel Oturu (#Gophers signee) and Tre Jones (Duke signee). Referees are Jon McLean, Tony Rodriguez and the pride of Golden Valley, Matt Dalle. Game had been chippy for a while leading up to this: pic.twitter.com/seYBtcg7Ks— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) March 25, 2018
Tim Leighton from the MSHSL didn’t cite that specific play in response to a Star Tribune question about Oturu, but he did write this in an e-mail Monday:
“Part of the criteria to be selected to the All-Tournament Team is sportsmanship. It is one of the items shared by the public address announcer prior to the award ceremony. It was a committee decision not to include Daniel on the All-Tournament Team because of that criteria.”
Clearly punitive for the shove on Tre. Only explanation. But you know what? Daniel won’t care.
— Extraneous Ed (@Extraneous_Ed) March 25, 2018
Oturu retweeted that and other tweets after the game.
He also had a few words of his own to add, declaring “No matter what you say about me and my team, you can never take away the fact that we are champions.”
Can’t believe you were left off the all tournament team, but than again that’s petty compared to beating Apple valley for a state title. Excited to see you in maroon and gold . Also hope to see you in the summer league at delasalle
— Mochi2X�� (@50ShadesOfCorey) March 26, 2018
In the big picture, it’s not a huge deal. Oturu figures to rack up bigger honors once he starts his career with the Gophers. Still: If this was punishment over one technical foul, it seems overly punitive.