ralph sampson plaque

Ralph Sampson was selected for induction in the inaugural class of the ACC Hall of Fame with 90.9 percent of the media vote.


Ralph Lee Sampson Jr.

Virginia, 1979-83

7-4, center

Dominant, mobile center who was a three-time consensus All-American, three-time consensus national player of the year and three-time ACC Player of the Year. ACC Rookie of the Year (1980). Led conference in rebounding three times and blocked shots four times. Fourth all-time in rebounding and second in blocked shots in ACC history. Led Virginia to an NIT championship in 1980, winning MVP honors as a freshman, its first Final Four appearance in 1981 and a 112-23 record over four years. Had two triple-doubles in his first 10 games. No. 1 overall selection in the NBA draft.


6 — Sports Illustrated covers in four years — from his first season at Virginia to his first in the NBA.


Dec. 11, 1982, Virginia 68, Georgetown 62 | It was promoted like a championship fight: “Game of the Decade.” Sports Illustrated previewed it with a fold-out cover. Upstart cable superstation WTBS televised it nationally. It was 7-4 Ralph Sampson against 7-0 Patrick Ewing in a matchup of contrasting styles. Sampson, playing with the flu, had 23 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks. Ewing fouled out with 16 points.


March 21, 1981, Virginia 74, BYU 60 | Sampson had 22 points, including 14 in the second half, and 12 rebounds as the Cavaliers beat Danny Ainge and the Cougars in the East regional finals and advanced to their first Final Four.

Box Score

March 19, 1980, Virginia 58, Minnesota 55 | Sampson had 15 points and 15 rebounds as the Cavaliers beat Kevin McHale and the Golden Gophers in the NIT championship. Sampson was the first freshman to be named tournament MVP.

Photo from UVA Library

Photo from UVA Library

Dec. 22, 1979, Virginia 84, Army 60 | Sampson recorded a triple-double (16 points, 12 rebounds, 12 blocks) in his eighth college game.


“There ought to be a law. I don’t mind a 7-4 guy shooting from 18 feet, but there ought to be a law against him making them.”

— BYU coach Frank Arnold


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