Sampson Leads Hall of Fame Class of 2012

NEW ORLEANS (AP and - Former Virginia basketball player Ralph Sampson was among the 12 members of the 2012 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2012, announced Monday in conjunction with the NCAA Final Four. Sampson will be inducted during this year's Enshrinement Ceremonies, held Sept. 6-8 in Springfield.

The 7-foot-4 Sampson was one of the most dominant college players in history, a three-time national player of the year who led Virginia to the Final Four. He was the first overall pick in the NBA draft and a four-time All-Star before injuries finally slowed his career.

Sampson is joined in the class by five-time NBA All-Star Reggie Miller, the NBA's all-time winningest coach Don Nelson, two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain, distinguished basketball official and coordinator Hank Nichols, former college and NBA star Jamaal Wilkes and the first women's professional basketball team, the All American Red Heads. They are in addition to the five directly elected members who were announced in February by distinguished committees focused on preserving all areas from the game of basketball. These direct-elects include Mel Daniels voted in from the American Basketball Association (ABA) Committee, Don Barksdale from the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Lidia Alexeeva from the International Committee, Chet Walker from the Veterans Committee and Phil Knight from the Contributor Direct Election Committee.

With Sampson in the program, the Cavaliers won the 1980 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) Championship and participated in three-consecutive NCAA Tournaments (1981-83), reaching the Final Four in 1981. Virginia compiled an overall record of 112-23 with Sampson on the team and was ranked in the Top 10 by The Associated Press for 49 consecutive weeks.

Sampson scored 2,228 points during his UVa career and also totaled 1,511 rebounds, 899 field goals and 462 blocked shots. He is the Cavaliers' career leader in rebounds, field goals and blocked shots, and ranks fourth on UVa's career scoring list.

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Following his four-year collegiate career, Sampson was selected by the Houston Rockets as the NBA's number-one draft choice in 1983 and went on to earn NBA Rookie of the Year honors. He participated in three NBA All-Star games and was MVP of the NBA All-Star Game in 1985.

During his nine-season NBA career, he helped lead Houston to the 1986 NBA Finals and later played for the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Washington Bullets.

Sampson will be the first Virginia player to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He will become the sixth player to be enshrined in Springfield who played collegiately in the ACC, joining Billy Cunningham, Michael Jordan, Bob McAdoo and James Worthy of North Carolina, and David Thompson of NC State.

"It's a very special time for people who have been involved in the game for a long time to be in the presence of those who have already been in inducted into the Hall of Fame," Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino, whose team was ousted by Kentucky in the Final Four on Saturday night, was among the finalists who were passed over by the committee.

Also missing out were four-time All-Star Maurice Cheeks, former Celtics and Rockets coach Bill Fitch, four-time All-Star Bernard King and longtime college and NBA coach Dick Motta.