MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO)Daniel Oturu, a junior at St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall High School, is developing into quite a basketball player.

And he has a future right here in Minnesota.

Oturu is long and lean, growing into a body that seems tailor-made for his love of basketball.

“I like to go out with a lot of energy, attack the glass and get rebounds, body shots,” Oturu said. “I like to do whatever it takes to help my team win.”

He is an unfinished product to be sure; still needing to put on weight. He’s also got some of that raw talent you can’t teach: size, hand-eye coordination and the ability to run the floor.

“Certainly he’s a gem as far as his ability to play above the rim. At 6-foot-9 with his length, to [7-feet-3-inch] wingspan, he certainly can cover a lot of ground,” said coach Jerry Kline. “His potential is going to be [very high], we’re not going to see it all here in high school.”

He has so much upside that he was recruited nationally, including an offer from Kansas. But he has decided to stay home and play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He made that decision in front of his student body — and that move by itself was a win.

“It was awesome, something I’ll never forget. Just having everyone come support me,” Oturu said.

Daniel Oturu (credit: CBS)

It is why Gopher Head Coach Richard Pitino was courtside for his state tournament appearance; because his game will stay in Minnesota, and that future excites him.

“I feel like I’m at home there, and I just feel like I wanted to change the program and help build offensive success they’ve been having this year,” he said.

Oturu has learned to make this his personal playground. When he’s in a gymnasium, he’s free to achieve, to make plays and to develop.

“I can be myself, I can play freely, just have fun,” he said.

And so Oturu will focus next year on a goal he has not reached — leading his team to a state title. In the process, he will keep growing to a new level in basketball and beyond.

“He’s learned how to become a leader by practicing hard every day, by getting better in the classroom,” Kline said. “He’s learning that it’s got to happen by doing it, not just by verbal, and a lot by actions.”

Mike Max