Virginia legend Ralph Sampson is among the eight members of the Class of 2011 National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, it was announced today. Sampson is joined by Bobby Knight as the headlines of the Class of 2011.
Also in the class are coach Eddie Sutton, players James Worthy, Cazzie Russell and Chris Mullin and contributors Joe Vancisin and Eddie Einhorn.
The 7-foot-4 Sampson (UVA 1979-1983) is one of just two men voted consensus national player of the year three times, with Bill Walton being the other. While at Virginia, he led the Cavaliers to a 112-23 record, including a 1981 Final Four appearance his sophomore season. He was the sixth player in NCAA history to score more than 2,000 points (2,228) and have more than 1,500 rebounds (1,511).
"He changed the whole game, the whole game," said ESPN analyst and former Duke forward Jay Bilas, who was a freshman when he played against Sampson as a senior. "It was like playing against your dad in the driveway. You had no shot. I held him to 36 points and thought I did a pretty good job."
Sampson led the Cavaliers to a combined 37-5 ACC record during sophomore, junior and senior seasons. By comparison, North Carolina went 38-4 with Michael Jordan.
Sampson was drafted overall No. 1 by the Houston Rockets and was named Rookie of the Year in 1984 and MVP of the All-Star Game in 1985. He led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1986 before knee injuries truncated his otherwise prolific NBA career.
During his three seasons in the NBA, Sampson averaged 20.9 points and 10.7 rebounds.
"Ralph's NBA achievements in his pre-injury years would probably put him in the top 10 of all-time NBA players," said Sampson's former Virginia coach Terry Holland. "Very few NBA players have had such high expectations and were able to live up to those expectations so successfully in their first three years."
The Class of 2011 induction will take place at the Hall of Fame on Nov. 20.