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YouTube Gold: Virginia’s Ralph Sampson

Just before the Krzyzewski era took off, Virginia’s Ralph Sampson set a new standard for ACC big men.

Virginia Cavaliers v North Carolina Tar Heels
 CHAPEL HILL, NC - CIRCA 1980: Ralph Sampson #50 of the Virginia Cavaliers fights for position with Sam Perkins #41 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during an NCAA College basketball game circa 1980 at the Carmichael Auditorium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

For a number of reasons, Ralph Sampson is not remembered the way people expected, injuries and the rise of Michael Jordan and Sampson’s Houston teammate Hakeem Olajuwon, who soon eclipsed Sampson among them.

For a modern analogy, Sampson was kind of an early version of Victor Wembanyama. He didn't really shoot the three pointer, but he could from time to time. And he wasn’t as good a ballhandler as Wembanyama is, but by the standard of his day, he was very solid. Indeed, he talked about playing guard. No one was going to use a 7-4 guard in the 1980’s but a guy can dream.

Before all that thought, Sampson was incredible. He was lithe, had great instincts and was superbly athletic.

This highlight video from his time at Virginia is amazing. It didn’t last long, but for a few years, Sampson was as good as any big man in the game.