Daniel Oturu was helped off the court after coming down awkwardly on his left ankle midway through the first half in Cretin-Derham Hall’s win Saturday against Hopkins at the Breakdown Tipoff Classic.
As soon as the 6-foot-10 senior got to the trainer’s table, he was surrounded by fellow Gophers recruits Jarvis Omersa and Gabe Kalscheur. That just shows you the tight-knit bond they will carry into the Minnesota basketball program next season.
Oturu, who got his ankle taped up and returned to the bench, was out for the rest of the game.
“I’ll be fine,” he said after the Raiders’ 86-73 win at Hopkins. “I feel a lot better now.”
The prized recruit in the Gophers 2018 recruiting class was putting on a show early in front of his future coach Richard Pitino and assistants Ben Johnson and Kimani Young sitting courtside Saturday. Oturu blocked three shots in the first five minutes.
His final rejection came on a shot by Wisconsin recruit and 6-11 Hopkins center Joe Hedstrom, but Oturu landed right on the opposing big man’s foot and crumbled to the floor. After writhing in pain for a few seconds, Oturu remained on his back holding his left ankle. It looked a lot worse than it was.
“He’ll be back,” Cretin-Derham Hall coach Jerry Kline said. “We’ll play it by ear. We’ll be smart. We got the whole season ahead of us, so we’ll take precaution. He wanted to be with his teammates. This is his senior year. It’s about team. He wanted to enjoy this, whether he was out there or not.”
Pitino and his assistants took a deep breath a few minutes later when they saw Oturu walking back to the sideline with a slight limp.
“It was a fun environment,” Kline said. “It was awesome. It’s too bad he got injured. I know he wanted to play in front of his future coaching staff, but he’ll have plenty more opportunities.”
In the first game, Kalscheur finished with 31 points with six three-pointers in a 65-62 loss against Iowa City West led by Iowa coach Fran McCaffery’s son, Patrick, who finished with 23 points. Kalscheur had 20 points in the first half, but he missed a couple free throws and had his potential game-tying three blocked at the buzzer.
In the second game, Omersa led Orono to a 64-50 win against Armstrong with 18 points and 17 rebounds. The 6-8, 230-pound power forward gave the crowd a display of his jaw-dropping athleticism in the first half when he took two steps inside the foul line, took off and threw down a one-handed slam on a defender. A minute later, Omersa blocked a shot seemingly with his armpit, which should be considered illegal in some states.
Overall, it was a good night for Gophers fans to watch their three recruits, even if Oturu’s evening was short lived.
-- Gophers coaches stayed for the final game Saturday to watch Minnehaha Academy's five-star 2020 guard Jalen Suggs against East Ridge. Suggs' team won 60-58.