MINNEAPOLIS -- Daniel Oturu’s appreciation of NBA history dots his childhood in Woodbury.

From admiring forefathers in Wilt Chamberlin and Bill Russell to a favorite player in Kobe Bryant, Oturu has always had a love affair.

The Gophers sophomore center decided Monday, March 23, was the time to try to play in the same league when he declared for the NBA draft on Monday, his father confirmed to the Pioneer Press.

“He’s very excited,” Francis Oturu said.

After leading Cretin-Derham Hall to a state championship his senior year, Daniel Oturu had a breakout sophomore season with the Gophers, averaging more than 20 points and 11 rebounds.

With 2.5 blocks per game, he was all Big-Ten defensive team and was named to the all-Big Ten second team and included on a few All-America teams.

“Just a ball and a dream,” Oturu tweeted after news was shared.

Gophers coach Richard Pitino said last week that they entered paperwork with the NBA Underclassmen Advisory Committee to hear their views on Oturu’s draftability in April.

Oturu’s decision, which was first reported by 247sports.com, advances that timeline.

“So happy for (Daniel) as he embarks on his next journey,” Pitino tweeted Monday. “So proud of Daniel and excited for what lies ahead. He will always be a Gopher. The sky is the limit!”

Oturu will attempt to be the first Gopher drafted since Kris Humphries in 2004. Oturu has been listed as a potential first round pick, but he also has been left off other draft boards.

Oturu follows wing Amir Coffey, who left early after his junior year last spring. He went undrafted but played 13 games for the Los Angeles Clippers before this season was suspended.

The NBA’s schedule before the coronavirus pandemic was to hold the pre-draft combine on May 21-24, with the deadline for underclassmen to remove their name form the draft and keep college eligibility on June 15 and the draft set for June 25.

The NBA is looking to salvage its season, and it’s unclear where the draft could fall in its evolving timeline.