NBA Big Shots Project Oturu as Possible Lottery Pick; Gophers Scouring Transfer Portal for Big Men

Minnesota Gophers center Daniel Oturu (25) reacts after a play during the second half against the Florida International Golden Panthers on Dec. 28, 2019, at Williams Arena. Harrison Barden / USA TODAY Sports

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Daniel Oturu is off for the NBA and that shouldn’t be shocking to anyone whose been paying attention. All of the Gopher insiders have been calling for it, and today that day came to fruition.

Technically, Oturu can still turn back and return to campus, if he decides to do so before June 1… but that’s not happening. Daniel is a calculated human. His Instagram post wasn’t written by anyone who was sitting on a fence.

COVID-19 was the only wild card, I had been wondering about lately. Without the ability to take any visits or possibly workout for NBA scouts before the draft in June, might he opt for returning to what’s familiar due to the surrounding uncertainty…? No.

The further we got removed from the cancelation of March Madness, the more certain it seemed to get, that Dan was heading for the draft. After Oturu’s announcement today, Darren Wolfson (KSTP, SKOR North) tweeted out the reasoning behind Oturu’s decision.

He’s a 1st-round lock… and more likely a lottery pick. Tough to turn down that opportunity.

Congratulations to Daniel! The hometown kid shows the rest of those behind him, that you can stay home and still hear your name called in the 1st round of the NBA draft before you‘re able to drink alcohol legally.

What’s Next for the Gophers?

That seems to be the real question. I don’t know how the Gophers would have been able to function in 2019 without Oturu… so how does that change for 2020?

I don’t know. Pitino finds himself in another delicate situation. They will be as deep as anyone in the backcourt. Marcus Carr, Payton Willis, and Gabe Kalscheur will be joined by Jamal Mashburn Jr. One of the top in-state recruiters, Kerwin Walton (Hopkins – Guard) is still seriously considering the Gophers, too.

But what the fuck is Richard Pitino going to do in the front court?

Isaiah Ihnen is going to get a lot of minutes next season at the 4. Pitino wants to stretch and space the floor with Marcus Carr at the helm, anyway… but how he adjusts to guarding Big Ten big men could dictate how many minutes he gets consistently.

Eric Curry will also try to give it another go next season. If he can stay healthy and contribute anywhere near the level he did as a Freshman, the Gophers will be exponentially better than I am currently hoping them to be.

Martice Mitchell is Richard Pitino’s only other commitment for this upcoming class, next to Jamal Mashburn Jr. He is a 6-10 PF who can also stretch the floor and do it all. Now that Oturu is leaving, this get could be unbelievable significant.

Richard Pitino “The Transfer GAWD”

Depending on what happens with his own roster, Depending on how the Transfer Portal season goes, Pitino could have as many as 3 more scholarships available. Most likely, the NCAA is going to vote in a rule that will allow all major D1 college athletes to transfer one time in their career, without being punished with a year of ineligibility.

Richard loves the Transfer Portal (no matter what he says about it) and has used it a lot in his Minnesota tenure, with mixed results. He’s had successes that carried seasons (Akeem Springs) and complete failures (Alihan Demir) There is one transfer this offseason, that just makes too much sense… and currently has steam.

Morris Udeze is a C/PF who is leaving Wichita State and is currently in the Transfer Portal. Udeze is only 6’8” but what he lacks in height, he gets back in his 7‘+ wingspan and 240 lb. build. He is nicknamed “The Tank” for a reason.

The Gophers NEED big men that can jump in and contribute right away. Udeze looks like that guy, should he choose the Gophers. He was recruited to Wichita State by current Minnesota Assistant Coach, Kyle Lindstedt and both sides reportedly share interest. Morris told Ryan James that AZ State and Minnesota are the two teams who are pursuing him the heaviest, early.

Udeze’s numbers from last season are very pedestrian but he only got 10 MPG. Apparently, that’s just the way this Wichita State coach rotates his big men. He loves his 4-guy rotation, I guess… at least that’s what I keep on reading.

If Morris is good enough, we all know Pitino will play you until your tongue drags on the waxed wood floor. If any transfer portal guy picks Minnesota, I would put my money on Morris Udeze.

Mattius Markusson is a grad-transfer from Loyola Marymount. He is the definition of “big”. Standing at 7’3”, 261 pounds, he’s exactly what Pitino is looking for and Richard isn’t being shy about expressing his feelings. Here is what Markusson told the Star Tribune:

“Minnesota is reaching out to me every other day,” Markusson told the Star Tribune. “We’ve had some great conversations, so I sure have interest in the program.”

Marcus Fuller – Star Tribune

Marcus Fuller and Ryan James have both reported Minnesota also contacting DJ Carton, who is transferring out of Ohio State, and Landers Nolley II from Florida State.

Both of those guys would add more talent immediately, than anyone we’ve discussed so far… but they are both long shots. Nolley (6’7”) wants to play a BUNCH of minutes at wing and I don’t know if that is what the Gophers would be looking for.

Carton would be a massive get… but there’s apparently a lot going on with his situation and… we don’t really need a PG. If either guy wants in, then I’m in. I just don’t know why they would pick Minnesota, over some of the other opportunities they will have, given the situation.

If Pitino can pull the right strings for these last remaining scholarships, the Gophers could be a borderline NCAA Tournament team again… but if he misses, it could be disastrous.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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