After spending nine weeks in California getting ready for an NBA Draft with no set date, Daniel Oturu returned home to Minnesota recently with a better idea of what the process is moving forward.
It’s only a matter of time before the 6-foot-10 Woodbury product becomes the first Gophers player drafted since Kris Humphries in 2004.
As he drilled jump shots from long distance Friday at his old gymnasium at Cretin Derham-Hall, Oturu’s face lit up when mentioning he now knows draft day is officially Nov. 18.
“Definitely think I’m a first-round pick,” Oturu said. “I just need to continue to work hard and to prove it. That’s one goal, but my mindset is to play in this league for multiple, multiple years.”
All indications from Oturu’s agent Kevin Bradbury is that his client has been acing the interview process with NBA teams since the process started Aug. 19 with the Chicago Bulls. In the last month, he’s also talked with the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Thursday, Oturu enjoyed his conversation with the San Antonio Spurs, including five-time NBA championship coach Gregg Popovich. Among upcoming interviews, he’ll take calls from the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and home state Minnesota Timberwolves.
The NBA predraft combine process runs Sept. 28 through Oct. 16 at different NBA team markets and facilities. Oturu, who returns to Southern California soon, has already gone through combine drills and measurements for teams while training at P3 Sports Science in Santa Barbara.
NBA teams have been impressed with his humble and warm personality. They’re learning how Oturu would fit into their organizations on and off the court. He’s attacked specific areas of his game since his breakout sophomore year ended in March with the Gophers last season.
“I’ve really been focusing on ways I can improve myself,” he said. “In the weight room, I’ve been focusing on getting my shoulders, legs and core stronger. I’m working on getting my jump shot even better than before [shot 36 percent last year]. Getting confident with my form but also the speed in my jump shot. I want to be able to play [power forward], but also a small-ball [center].