Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 11/26/11

Minnesota Golden Gophers Coach Tubby Smith has seen drastic, if not dramatic improvements in the game of senior Center Ralph Sampson III.

“His consistency, his numbers have improved each year. They haven’t been leaps and bounds, but I think a lot of it has to do with Ralph getting in better shape, not that he hasn’t worked at it, but he’s had to focus on learning to breathe properly, I don’t know if he had asthma or another type of breathing disorder, but he’s got that under control better, and his stamina and strength are two issues he’s done a good job of addressing this summer and fall,” Sampson’s coach Tubby Smith said.

Sampson the younger goes about 6-10, 6-11. Extremely tall yes, but well short of his father’s 7-4. Sampson the elder teamed with Hakeem Olajuwon to form the famous “Twin Towers” for the Houston Rockets in the 1980s.

“We used to have a 7’4″ poster that he could roll down, and he would be standing up with a basketball,” Sampson 3 said at media day. Having a father with a career in the league will no doubt help him try and find his way to the NBA.

“He knows what’s going on mentally, I can go to him to talk about what’s going on and he can critique my game and give me pointers, a big help,” Sampson said of his Dad.

His father is no doubt his inspiration/role model.

“getting me into basketball, the post game, started with my fundamentals, seeing the career he had, watching his films and making me want to follow in his footsteps,” Sampson responded when I asked him about his father’s influence.

Right now Sampson III is looked at on the periphery of the NBA Draft. He could easily work his way into the second round if he shows steady improvement and puts on some muscle weight. The draft stock of front line mate Trevor Mbakwe is much higher.

Still, height is always greatly over-valued come draft time, and he has that. He’s got other positives too. Tubby articulated his best trait:

“Unselfishness, willingness to pass, sometimes to a fault. Sometimes I wish he’d be more, I don’t want to say selfish but otherwise, he’s a willing screener, passer, usually in a pretty good defensive position. That’s why he’s one of the best shot blockers in the Big Ten.”

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports.

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Yordano Ventura killed in car accident

Falcons benefit from questionable call after turnover

Report: Tomlin, Steelers fined Antonio Brown $10,000

Ten biggest winners and losers from NFL Championship Sunday

Luke Walton rips Lakers after 'embarrassing' 49-point loss

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Oregon firing OC David Reaves after DUI arrest

Report: Colts hired psychologists for Pagano-Grigson relationship

Report: Kelly a candidate to replace Shanahan as Falcons OC

Baron Davis blames Russia for Westbrook All-Star snub

Reason Jabari Parker was benched revealed

Sanders, Ware think Romo would be good fit for Broncos

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Ranking the top three conferences in college basketball

The NFC Championship’s two most important players

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker