The Gophers have a chance to land the state's top post player in the Class of 2018, Cretin-Derham Hall's Daniel Oturu, who is expected to announce his decision 3 p.m. Thursday at his school.
Oturu moved up his announcement a day after initially tweeting Wednesday night his decision would come Friday morning. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound junior will pick from high-major scholarship offers from Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, Baylor, Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Memphis.
The biggest game of the season so far is coming up for Minnesota coach Richard Pitino and his team Saturday afternoon against rival Wisconsin at Williams Arena. Oturu said this week he will attend the game, which is a good sign.
“Minnesota is off to a great start, hopefully they keep winning,” Oturu said Monday. “It helps with our community”
With Gophers starting center Reggie Lynch being a senior in 2017-18, Oturu would be a candidate to replace him in the middle. Oturu is long, athletic and is still filling out a frame that should be ideal for the Big Ten once he arrives as a freshman. He’s a shot-blocking force with an improving offensive game.
Playing for Howard Pulley’s AAU program last summer, Oturu made a name for himself as a strong defensive and rebounding presence opposite Marquette-bound senior Theo John. He also played with guards Gary Trent Jr. and Tre Jones. The exposure and competition in the Nike EYBL prepared him to have an even bigger junior year at Cretin-Derham Hall.
“I’m rebounding a lot better this year and my free throw game has improved a lot,” Oturu said. “I’m doing better at getting to the basket.”
In August, Oturu talked about how he enjoyed his unofficial visit with the Gophers after touring campus, facilities and watching practice. He has a good relationship with Pitino and assistant Ben Johnson.
“The things that stood out to me (were) how the coaches were really happy to have me on campus and it just felt like I was wanted there,” he told GopherIllustrated.com, “and it was good environment.”
Oturu landed a Kansas offer in November, but the Gophers have an advantage being that it’s the home state program. If Pitino lands Oturu, it would be the first in-state commitment since Amir Coffey from Hopkins and Michael Hurt from Rochester John Marshall signed in the 2016 class.
Minnesota failed to land any local prospects in a loaded 2017 class, but Pitino could have five scholarships available for a 2018 group that is just as talented at the top. The Gophers are also working hard on Armstrong’s Race Thompson, DeLaSalle’s Gabe Kalscheur and Tre Jones.
Oturu is ranked No. 1 in the state's junior class by ESPN.com. He's ranked 76th overall in 2018 by Rivals.com, 66th by Scout.com and 78th by 247Sports.com.