Gophers' sophomore star Daniel Oturu declares for NBA Draft

Gophers sophomore Daniel Oturu celebrates near the end of Minnesota's 75-69 win over Penn State Wednesday night at Williams Arena. Oturu finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds. ( (credit: University of Minnesota) )

It appears Daniel Oturu’s time with the University of Minnesota basketball program is over after two seasons.

Oturu posted on Instagram Monday night that he's declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft. In that post, he said he will hire an agent at some point in the draft process. He has until June 3 to withdraw his name and return to school. Gophers coach Richard Pitino said last week he met with Oturu, and they submitted his name to the NBA's Underclassmen Advisory Committee, which gives feedback to prospects on their potential draft stock.

Oturu, a Woodbury native and Cretin-Derham Hall graduate, was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection this year and was the only player in the NCAA to average at least 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. He has been named to at least two All-America lists.

Late in the season, he explained to local media why he chose to stay home and play for the Gophers.

“I feel like a lot of kids feel like it depends on what school you go to will help you. But to me, if you’re good enough, they’ll find you. Why not stay home? Why not help build a program here? Why not make Minnesota a powerhouse? I obviously sound biased, but we have so much talent here. It’s kind of disappointing to see not a lot of kids want to stay home, but at the same time, it’s a huge opportunity here to be able to play in front of your family, your friends, your home state,” Oturu said. “I just don’t see why people pass that up. At the end of the day, come to the U.”

Oturu is projected at anywhere from a lottery pick in the NBA Draft, to a second round pick. His challenge now is due to Coronavirus issues, he can’t work out for any teams or scouts with NBA team facilities shut down, and won’t be attending combines any time soon.

Pitino said before the Big Ten Tournament that he wouldn't talk to Oturu about his NBA future until after the season. At the time, he said if Oturu was projected to be a first-round pick or even a lottery pick, he'd be the first one to push Oturu out the door and tell him to go chase his dream. 

Oturu shared a message to Gophers fans on social media Monday night.

"I love the University of Minnesota with all my heart. It will forever be my home. Thank you Gopher Nation for embracing a hometown kid," Oturu posted on Twitter.

He would be the first Gophers’ player drafted since Kris Humphries in 2004, and the first in Pitino’s seven seasons at Minnesota. Amir Coffey declared for the NBA Draft after Minnesota's first NCAA Tournament win under Pitino last season. Coffey stayed in, was not drafted and signed a two-way contract with the L.A. Clippers.