Through 18 games this season, Ralph Sampson III's career scoring total stands at 980 points. With 20 more points, he would become just the fifth Golden Gopher ever to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 150 blocks. He currently has 605 rebounds and 193 blocks.
The Gophers' senior day is coming up in a few weeks. In the meantime, get to know more about Sampson--one of only two Minnesota seniors--with these Q&As.
Q: Could you talk a little about your role as the veteran on the team?
A: My role as a veteran would be to give my experiences and my words of wisdom to the team and try to guide the team as best as I can, to try to get them ready for the upcoming games and upcoming battles that we're going to face in the Big Ten season.
Q: What were some of the major things you took away from your summer workouts with Michael Jordan's trainer?
A: Some of the major takeaways that I got from it are that I can always push myself harder--that's definitely one thing I learned--and just how to take care of myself, take care of my body. And when things aren't going a certain way or going the way I want them to go, how to figure out ways to change them or how to adapt to those situations that come up.
Q: Elliott Eliason filled in for you in the starting lineup for a few games while you were injured. How would you assess his performance?
A: He redshirted last year, so it was his first time out there kind of going through the ropes. I think he handled it fairly well. The whole team had to step in and take on that role once I went down. When Trevor went down and when we both were out, I felt that the team came together a lot. We're still able to pull out wins. From that, I kind of found out what kind of heart our team had and what kind of fight we had in us, which is definitely beneficial now.
Q: Coach Smith and your teammates have said you are a good communicator on the court. Is that a skill you have always had, or have you had to work to develop it?
A: I think I developed it my freshman year coming in here. Back in high school, I didn't really understand the meaning of talking on the court and how to communicate. It really was not until I got here around the seniors and upperclassmen who taught me how to communicate and how to talk on the court. Now I do it all the time and try to get my teammates to do it. Coach is always harping on communication and talking on the court, and how we'll be a better team.
Q: You--one of the tallest guys on the team--won the three-point contest at All-Star Friday Night. Talk a little about your outside shooting ability.
A: Outside shooting is one of the main things I tried to work on over the summertime--trying to extend the range on my jump shot and just being more comfortable taking it. Everybody saw that when I came back here and won the three-point contest. I really don't think anybody was expecting me to win. I think it was a shocker to see me out there taking it all.
Q: What would it mean to you to reach 1,000 career points?
A: It would mean a lot, just to join the greats here at Minnesota. To be in the 1,000-point club would be a wonderful honor. I'm close. I'll just keep grinding it out and just take it one step at a time.
Q: What do you like better: a sweet dunk, or a sweet hook shot?
A: Nothing really beats the feel of a sweet hook shot, but in terms of getting the crowd into it, getting your team into it, a dunk is better.
Q: What are some of your favorite classes you have taken at Minnesota?
A: My favorite class that I took was an art class called Time and Interactivity, where you got to create sound bites and got to alter video clips and do video editing. We got to put our own thoughts and our own creativity into each project. ...I got to explore different things and hobbies that I liked.
Q: You are from Duluth, Ga. Have you ever been to Duluth, Minn.?
A: No. I haven't been there yet. I actually didn't know there was a Duluth, Minn., until I got here. People were telling me about, and I thought they were talking about Duluth back at home, but really they were talking about Duluth, Minn. It was a little confusing at times.