Daniel Oturu was the highest-rated big man Richard Pitino ever signed when he landed with the Gophers to headline the 2018 recruiting class last year.
It hasn’t taken Oturu long to prove worthy of that four-star rating out of high school.
After his 20 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in last week’s win against North Carolina A&T, the 6-foot-10 former Cretin-Derham Hall standout was named Big Ten freshman of the week Monday.
“Daniel was a top-40 recruit in the country for a reason,” Pitino said. “We worked really, really hard to get him. Very excited when we did get him. He’s a talented, talented player. He’s going to be a really good player for a long time in this league.”
Oturu, who averages 10.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks this season, leads all Big Ten freshmen in rebounds, blocks and double-doubles. His third straight double-double and fourth straight double-figure scoring game came in an 86-67 win Friday against North Carolina A&T.
Senior Jordan Murphy, who had 30 points and 16 rebounds against the Aggies, is having another All-Big Ten-caliber season thanks to the support of Oturu in the frontcourt.
“Defensive side of it is where he can grow like all freshmen do,” Pitino said. “But the effort is there and the production is there. Great kid, fun to be around and he really wants to win.”
Pitino's 2018 recruiting class also included Oturu's AAU teammates Gabe Kalscheur from DeLaSalle and Jarvis Omersa from Orono. Kalscheur, who is averaging 10.8 points and shooting a team-best 40.3 percent from three-point range, was named Big Ten freshman of the week on Nov. 26 after he helped the Gophers win the Vancouver Showcase.