By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Daniel Oturu is a force at St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall High School.

He was the first from this senior class to commit to play in Minnesota for the Gophers.

But Minnesota is not where his family is from — it is where they have settled, and it has worked out very well.

When Daniel signed his letter of intent to play for the Gophers, it was, in part, a continuation of the American dream.

His parents are first-generation immigrants from Nigeria.

Daniel Oturu (credit: CBS)

“We decided to move to the United States,” said Daniel’s mother, Deborah Oturu. “My husband moved first, then seven years after … my older daughter came to join him.”

The other thing you notice is where their son gets his size. Francis, Daniel’s father, is 5-foot-5-inches tall, while Deborah is 6-foot-1-inches tall.

Gopher Head Coach Richard Pitino remembers their first meeting.

“All of a sudden, Daniel’s father comes over to me, and I’m looking down at him, and he goes, ‘I’m Daniel’s dad.’ And I’m looking around going, ‘Is this really Daniel’s dad? Is somebody messing with me?'” Coach Pitino said. “But it’s funny, he’s a great guy, great mother, great parents.”

What they have seen is that son blossom into quite a basketball player. He is a force on the floor, and he is thankful for those parents that have guided him.

Francis and Deborah Oturu (credit: CBS)

“What they’ve done to help me get to this point in my life has been truly like a blessing,” Daniel said. “Words can’t explain how grateful I am to them. Through the ups and downs, they always stook by my side and always supported me.”

What the Gophers have is a player that can fit in to a culture that fits him.

“I project him as a terrific recruit,” Coach Pitino said. “Rankings don’t mean a whole lot to us, but it’s one of the higher-rated kids we gotten. But more so than that, he’s a terrific kid.”

And he can’t wait to bring that skill set to his now-hometown team.

“It means a lot to me because, first of all, it’s a home-state school, and just the fact that I have, I feel like I have my whole state around me supporting me,” Daniel said.

It has all worked out well for Daniel and his family.

“I’m very happy that I’m here and I can see that God is so wonderful to see us through where we’re at today,” Francis said.

Mike Max