Ralph Sampson III was born to be a twin tower. His father, Ralph Sampson II, was the lesser known half of the original “Twin Towers” when he played along side Akeem (at the time) Olajuwon with the Houston Rockets. Colton Iverson probably won’t impact the game of basketball like Olajuwon unless he has his own version of the “Dream Shake,” but the younger Sampson has the potential to at least match his father’s pro-career.
Sampson III is not as tall as his father, by almost half a foot, but he isn’t small. He is a solid 6’11’’ with room to grow. He is built more like an ACC big man than the typical Big Ten bruiser. Judging by the flailings of the Big Ten against other major conference and especially the ACC in recent years, he could present serious match-up problems.
In a word, versatility is Sampson III’s biggest asset. He has shown he can score with his back to the basket with a more effective than graceful hook shot, and can knock down the outside shot. Don’t expect him to be Rick Rickert, as comfortable on the outside as he is on the inside. The outside shot will not be his biggest weapon. Instead, it will be a tool to keep the defense honest. He can also run and jump. Just call him the anti-Tollackson.
After the first exhibition game against Saint Cloud State there was much criticism of his performance. Among the many complaints were that he didn’t look very enthused about his first college game. Since then we learned that he was dealing with the flu, which has made an unwelcome and early appearance in Minnesota this year. Even when healthy though, he will not be an energy guy. He possesses an odd combination of somber intensity. He’ll make a huge block, have a monster dunk, or rise above a defender for a soft jumper, and you might as well have killed his puppy. His reaction won’t change. He is the strong silent type. Every team needs a calming influence, and it should be beneficial, especially for the freshman center. Too many young players get too amped up or too down when they make a mistake. Keep this in mind the next time, and there will be a next time, some one says he looks like he doesn’t want to be there. Instead watch the stats and how he plays the game instead of whether there is a smile on his face.