Ralph Sampson is one of the most decorated basketball players in college basketball history. A three-time ACC Player of the Year and three-time Naismith Player of the Year, the 7-4 Sampson was just about unstoppable at Virginia.
Malcolm Brogdon, almost a foot shorter than Sampson, isn’t quite on that level, but the 6-5 senior was named ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year for the Cavaliers, who are back in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons.
“He’s a staple,” Sampson said of Brogdon on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Over the last couple years, you see what Virginia has done. They’ve transformed the program and Malcolm Brogdon has been right in the middle. You can’t bother him. He’s steady. He can shoot the three, he can drive to the basket. Some people say he’s a little bit slow of foot. He’s smart, he knows how to play defense, he knows the game situation. I have not seen a player like that in years at the college level that is that sharp of a player.”
Brogdon had 22 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in Virginia’s 77-69 win over Butler in the Round of 32. The Cavaliers (28-7), who play No. 4 Iowa State (21-11) on Friday, are vying for their first trip to the Elite Eight since 1995.
“As Virginia goes, he goes,” Sampson said. “If he’s playing and he’s playing well and he takes it on himself to get out there and do it, which he can every night, (Virginia can go far). He knows who’s playing well, who’s not playing well. I’ve not seen anything like him in a very long time. I think he will carry Virginia to the Final Four, and if he’s ready to play every night, they should win . . . the national title. But it’s going to be on his shoulders. He has big shoulders, but everybody has to play. He understands where everybody needs to be at every given time. For me, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. You don’t see players like that.”
Sampson believes Brogdon will be a solid NBA player.
“I think he will,” Sampson said. “I think he’ll be a very steady pro. He reminds me of Andre Miller and players like that that had long-term tenures in the NBA. Andre Miller is slow of foot, and I think he may be still playing today.”
He is. Miller, who turned 40 on Saturday, is a reserve for the Spurs.
“In today’s market in the NBA, you have to be with the right team,” Sampson said. “He’s going to get drafted by a bad team and hopefully he can find his way to a good team. But if you’re not with the right team that has his style, (give it some time). He’ll find his way and I think he’ll be successful anyway.”
Sampson was also asked about the mini-controversy surrounding Dwight Howard’s use of Stickum spray. Many people say the spray gives Howard an unfair advantage. Sampson disagrees.
“I don’t think there’s any advantage in basketball,” he said. “Dwight Howard, he’s a great player. He’s strong. I think guys like him may have gotten too strong and lifted maybe too many weights. They probably got Hakeem Olajuwon teaching him some post-up moves, but I tell people all the time: You can’t teach Hakeem Olajuwon moves to anybody. That’s just an innate ability. So you have to teach Dwight Howard (other) moves. I think he’s coming along. He’s a great guy. As far as the Stickum, there’s no advantage. Football wide receivers may think they have an advantage, but I don’t think it’s an advantage anywhere else. In basketball, you have to feel the ball. You have to have that touch. You have to feel the game. It’s constant up and down the court, so I don’t think there’s an advantage at all.”