By Cardell Dudley
Look up the definition of the word phenom, which means, a person who is outstandingly talented or admired, especially and up and comer, and you will fully understand this is a word we throw around too much these days. For every young and talented individual in various walks of life, they automatically have the word phenom attached to them. The difference to me, regarding being one of many talented youngsters compared to being a phenom is simple, the phenom is clearly the best of the crop. We can go down the line throughout the history of basketball, Wilt, Lew Alcindor then and later Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Moses Malone, Ewing, Kevin Garnett, Kobe, Lebron are all phenoms due to their consistent dominance over their peers even at an adolescent age. For them, being a highly coveted prospect was a no brainer. However, they fall short of this man, 7'4 Ralph Sampson who is even to this day, the most coveted prospect in the history of basketball. Coming out of Harrisonburg High School (Harrisonburg,VA) in 1979 where he led Harrisonburg to two consecutive Virginia State AA Championships averaging 30 points, 19 rebounds and 7 block shots in the process, Sampson possessing the athelticism and skill set of a guard mixed with the incredible size of a dominant center, became the focal point of recruiting for every college program in the country and of every team in the NBA as well. Sampson would stay at home for college and attend the University of Virginia where he would become one of the greatest college basketball players of all time before being chosen first overall in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. In today's "prisoner of the moment" society we often get caught up in the hype of now and overlook the standouts from the past. Yes, the previously mentioned names have made their marks in the history book of basketball, although when you look at the most coveted chapter in the book, one name will appear before all of the others and the name is Ralph Lee Sampson Jr.