Ralph Sampson, the 7-4 center who led the UVA basketball team to unparalleled heights in the 1980s, became the first Cavalier to be voted to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in February.
“It’s an honor that I will cherish the rest of my life, and my children will cherish it as well,” Sampson (Col ’83) told the Charlottesville Daily Progress.
During Sampson’s time on the court for UVA, the Cavaliers participated in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, reaching the Final Four in 1981. The previous year, UVA won the National Invitation Tournament championship.
A three-time Player of the Year in the ACC and NCAA as well as four-time All-American, Sampson scored 2,228 points during his UVA career and totaled 1,511 rebounds, 899 field goals and 462 blocked shots. He is the Cavaliers’ career leader in rebounds, field goals and blocked shots.
Sampson also played with distinction in the NBA. The Houston Rockets’ No. 1 draft choice in 1983, he participated in three NBA All-Star games, earning MVP status in the 1985 game.
His professional honors, however, stand in the shadow of his time at UVA, Sampson says.
“Walking across Thomas Jefferson’s Lawn on a rainy day and receiving my diploma at the University of Virginia is the most cherished moment of my life,” he says.
An induction ceremony is scheduled for November in Kansas City.