PISCATAWAY, N.J. – NBA scouts don’t have too many chances to see one of the Big Ten’s top big men play on the East Coast this season. So, they flocked to see Gophers center Daniel Oturu in Sunday’s 64-56 loss at Rutgers.
Eleven NBA scouts representing eight teams were at the Rutgers Athletic Center, including reps from the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons.
Oturu struggled in the first half vs. the physical defense of the Scarlet Knights, but he scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half to fuel a late rally. He also added nine rebounds and two blocks in 37 minutes.
“Daniel needed to be more physical down low and demand the ball,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “He was better in the second half. They’re a really big and physical team. They’re one of the best defensive teams in the country.”
There weren’t many teams that could slow down the 6-10 sophomore this season. He was averaging 25 points in his past five games, but it wasn’t easy battling against the Scarlet Knights’ 6-11, 255-pound Myles Johnson, who has a 7-7 wingspan.
In the second half, Oturu put the ball on the floor at the top of the key and drove by Johnson for his first field goal of the game at 16:35. Less than a minute later, he nailed his 11th three-pointer of the season.
Even after picking up his third foul, Oturu scored 10 of his team’s 12 points during one stretch to cut a 14-point deficit to single digits down the stretch. There was a reason why so many scouts wanted to see him Sunday.
“I think right now, he’s probably playing as well as any player in the country,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “All of our guys had to play a role in defending him.”
Oturu is still projected as high as the No. 8 pick in the 2020 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, according to nbadraft.net.
Gymnasts drop by
The Gophers women’s gymnastics team attended the game, staying in town after finishing in first place in the Scarlet Knights’ quad meet Saturday. Junior Lexy Ramler became the third Gopher in program history to score a perfect 10 on the beam event.