Clippers acquire Gophers’ Daniel Oturu in 2020 NBA draft

Oturu becomes the first Gopher selected in the NBA draft since Kris Humphries was taken No. 14 in the 2004 draft.


Kamaan Richards

Center Daniel Oturu leaps to block an opponent at Williams Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The Gophers went on to defeat Cleveland State 85-50.

AJ Condon, Sports Reporter

It had been a long wait for the Minnesota Golden Gophers to hear one of their players’ names called in the NBA draft – 16 years to be exact.

But on Wednesday, former Gophers’ center Daniel Oturu ended the drought, as he was selected No. 33 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and was ultimately dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers. Oturu was the first Gopher selected in the NBA draft since Kris Humphries was taken No. 14 overall in the 2004 draft.

Oturu played two seasons with the Gophers before declaring for the draft. He made an immediate impact in the post alongside Jordan Murphy his freshman season and took a big step forward in his second year under head coach Richard Pitino.

He put up a monster sophomore season in 2019-20, leading the Gophers in points, rebounds and blocks per game and was named to the All-Big Ten second team. He took control of the offense, averaging a double-double with 20.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

He ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring and first in rebounding, while leading the Gophers to a 15-16 overall record.

Oturu chose to stay home and play in Minnesota for the Gophers. This will mark the second straight season a Gopher will join the NBA after Amir Coffey was signed after the 2018-19 season by the Los Angeles Clippers.

Coffey and Oturu will be reunited once more in their careers. From being competitors in high school, to teammates in college, they are teammates once again. Last season, Coffey didn’t play much but averaged 3.2 points in just under nine minutes of playing time per game.

“Daniel really chose Minnesota for all the reasons that we constantly try to sell. He valued playing for the name on the front of the jersey. He’s got a great level of pride for Minnesota,” Pitino said in a recent media availability.

The 6-foot-10 center holds a 7-foot-3 wingspan and has been drawing attention from scouts about his ability to move for his size. He has been developing a very strong post game as well as a mid-range shot. Scouts have said he could benefit from adding more muscle to his frame, especially in his upper body.

Oturu will hopefully be able to make his NBA debut next season and answer the questions scouts had on him.

“That’s huge for the growth of the program. You want to win, you want to graduate players but you also want to show that you can help them achieve their dreams,” Pitino said.