“We want to welcome Ralph Sampson III back to the Golden Gopher basketball program,” said Golden Gopher Head Coach Tubby Smith. “One thing the NCAA allows players to do is test the draft waters and having done that and also by consulting with his family he came to the decision to return to Minnesota. He is coming off a good junior season and I think having gone through the NBA workouts will only help him as we head into next season.”
Sampson III will enter his senior campaign with career averages of 8.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in 97 career games (87 starts). He is 202 points shy of becoming the 37th player in Minnesota history to amass 1,000 career points. In doing so, he will also become one of 18 players to finish a career with at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds and one of five players to finish with at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocks.
He is currently fourth on the Gophers all-time blocks list with 166, 25 behind his former teammate Damian Johnson for third all-time and is coming off a junior season that saw him average a career-high 10.2 ppg while blocking 63 shots, the eighth-most in a single season at Minnesota.
Sampson III, and fellow senior to be Trevor Mbakwe, will enter the 2011-12 season as the only seniors on the roster. Minnesota is adding freshman Joe Coleman and Andre Hollins and junior college transfers Andre Ingram and Julian Welch to a roster that is young but experienced. True freshmen Maverick Ahanmisi (29 games played, five starts), Chip Armelin (31 games played) and Austin Hollins (31 games played, five starts) played key roles for the Gophers last season.
Minnesota’s roster will also include sophomore Rodney Williams (63 career games, 32 starts), freshman Maurice Walker, who missed all but 12 games last season due to a knee injury, and Elliott Eliason, Chris Halvorsen and Oto Osenieks. Eliason, Halvorsen and Osenieks redshirted last season.