Ralph Sampson, who will be remembered for his tremendous career at the University of Virginia and seemingly unlimited potential, will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Friday.
The 7-foot-4 Sampson had one of the greatest collegiate careers of all time, earning three Naismith Awards and two Wooden Awards while averaging 16.9 points and 11.4 rebounds over the course of his four seasons at Virginia. He led the Cavaliers to an NIT Championship, a Final Four, and an Elite Eight.
Upon leaving Virginia, he was an easy choice for the Houston Rockets with the No. 1 pick in the 1983 draft, and he won Rookie of the Year by averaging 21 points and 11.1 rebounds. The Rockets again had the No. 1 pick in 1984, and famously opted to choose Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon to pair with Sampson, creating the Twin Towers. The tandem would make the NBA Finals in only their second year together, with Sampson hitting an off-balance game-winner to finish off the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Sadly, Sampson's career went downhill from there. Although he averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds over the course of his first three seasons, knee and back injuries began to toll the talented big man from there on out. He would only play more than half a season two more times, and was traded from Houston in 1987-88. He'd be out of the league by the end of the 1991-92 season.
Sampson was a four-time NBA All-Star and was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Although his pro career never reached the heights it could have, the star's contributions to the game are worth honoring.