There was always something about Minnesota lurking on Ralph Sampson's list. Most southern kids are thinking ACC/SEC and that means a great deal to them. For Sampson, a 6-foot-11 center out Duluth (Ga.) Northview, he always seemed to brandish the type of personality that would gravitate toward Tubby Smith. On Thursday, Sampson selected the Minnesota Golden Gophers over Georgia Tech with Clemson and Maryland making the final four.
"It had a lot to do with (Coach Smith's personality)," Sampson said. "His personality helped me feel comfortable around him and with the other coaches."
Rated the No. 70 prospect in America, Sampson's steady climb has been well documented. In a year's time he went from being an afterthought at the NBA Camp in 2006 to a Top 100 prospect in 2007. In short, he's improved each season and there's no reason to think it can't continue in Gopher land.
"A successful first year for me is seeing myself getting better as a player," Sampson said. "I want to be better overall. As long as I gain ground and experience as a player and person it'll be a success."
Smith's Gophers now have four players committed in the current Class of 2008 and remain in search of a backcourt option. Signing this fall, in addition to Sampson, will be Iverson, junior college wing Devron Bostic and juco forward Paul Carter.