Late Sunday night, as the deadline decision news releases poured in from schools around the country, one player was noticeably quiet.
That player: Minnesota forward Ralph Sampson III. Sampson's draft candidacy had gone unnoticed throughout late April and early May, but he was in the draft all the same. By late Sunday night, reports indicated Sampson was set to stay in the draft, even though Minnesota made no official announcement one way or the other.
All of a sudden -- and not a moment too soon -- it appears Sampson isn't going to stay in the draft after all. According to the Minnesota Star, Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi texted Gophers beat writer Myron P. Medcalf with the news that he "expect[s] Ralph to be here next year."
If so, that's big news for Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, who is now set to return two experienced, dynamic frontcourt players in Sampson and athletic power forward Trevor Mbakwe, who initially toyed with the idea of entering the draft before spurning the chance to test the draft waters this spring. Mbakwe is one of the nation's most dazzling post finishers; Sampson is one of its best shot-blockers, and he boasts a smooth but still-developing offensive game to boot.
Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. ET was the official deadline for prospects to withdraw from the draft and preserve their eligibility for another year in school. Until official confirmation comes, we can't be sure Sampson filed such a request in time. Needless to say, this is an unusual situation. But all signs currently point to Sampson's return. For now, at least.