This redshirt senior took a season off from live basketball due to NCAA transfer rules. Can he step in and become an immediate factor?
Measurables and background:
Robert Sampson has good size for a college forward at 6'8" and 224 lbs with a long wingspan to boot. He is originally from Atlanta, which he lists as one reason he decided to transfer back to Tech. His surname should be familiar to college basketball fans, as his father, Ralph Sampson, was one of the all-time great college basketball players. His brother, Ralph Sampson III, was also a four year player at Minnesota and is now a professional basketball player.
Sampson increased his production in each of his seasons at ECU, eventually starting most games in his sophomore season and all that he appeared in by his junior year. In limited minutes, the left-hander filled up the box score with scoring, rebounding and blocks and even flashed his range from beyond the arc, hitting 38.3% of shots from there in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined.
Since last season he was plugged to the bench the whole season, let's look back to his most recent year of basketball action. In 2012-13, he lead the East Carolina Pirates in rebounds and blocks per game with 9.2 and 1.8 respectively. He started 33 games and logged 9.1 points per game on a solid effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 52.1%. Despite only playing for 3 seasons in Greenville, he finished his career there 5th all time in blocks in school history.
Camp Confidential with Robert Sampson:
Role on this year's team:
Sampson's game will remind many of Kammeon Holsey, although he is bouncier and has a better outside shooting touch. He can get position in the post well and has control of a variety of spin moves and drop steps to create space to flip shots into the rim. His left-handedness also makes him a tough cover for defenders who may try to shade him the wrong way. Robert is also an accomplished three point shooter, even though he had a poor mark from that distance his junior season at ECU.
Sampson has a nose for getting rebounds and and plenty of hops to follow offensive rebounds with put back dunks. Defensively, he has good awareness both as an on-ball defender and a weakside help defender and uses his jumping ability and wingspan to alter shots. He registered a block percentage (an estimate of the percent of two-point shots blocked while on the floor) of 5.50% in his last playing season. (for comparison, last season Daniel Miller blocked an estimated 8.61% of available shots*).
Sampson, like too many on the team, is a weak free throw shooter with a career percentage of just 57% which could spell trouble late in games. Still, he's had plenty of time to put up shots in empty gyms over the past 18 months or so and we could see that rate climb.
He will fight Demarco Cox and Charles Mitchell for the right to start at either the 4 or the 5 spots this season, but no matter if starting or coming off the bench, he will be an important piece for Brian Gregory and his staff this season.
*Taken from Kenpom data (%Block statistic)