Ralph Sampson III, a 6-foot-11, 220-pound center from Northview High School in Duluth, Ga., will carve out his own niche in college. The four-star big man made his decision on Thursday.
Sampson verbally committed to Minnesota after a much researched recruitment. The No. 76 ranked big man in the class of 2008 visited Tubby Smith's program twice in the recruiting process and liked what he saw in the Big Ten school.
"It was the place where he felt the most comfortable," Northview head coach Steve Bombard said. "He had taken an official and unofficial visit there and loved the campus. He was telling me that Minnesota was building a new practice facility where he could work out in whenever he wanted. And, overall, he was just really comfortable with coach Smith."
Sampson also considered Clemson and Georgia Tech in the final hour. Sampson is the fourth player to commit to the Gophers in the class of 2008. He joins South Dakota big man Colton Iverson and junior college prospects Devron Bostick and Paul Carter.
Sampson was one of the fastest rising players in the class and showed tremendous improvement both on the court and with his confidence as the year progressed. Bromard said he believes the big man will continue the upswing this year.
"He's going to make a huge impact (when he gets to Minnesota)," the coach said. "Ralph exploded at the end of his junior year and I really think he's going to have an unbelievable senior year. I think he's going to have a chance to start as a freshman and help lead that team to NCAA tournament.
"In his heart, Minnesota was where he felt like he should be."