'Ned' Sampson joins NCHSAA Hall of Fame
By Scott Bigelow
no other person like our coach, Mr. Ned," a former basketball player
said of John W. "Ned" Sampson.
Sampson, a three-sport star and 1953 UNCP graduate, was nominated in
August to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's (NCHSAA)
Hall of Fame.
He is a legendary player and coach, and the father of Oklahoma University
head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson. According to the Raleigh News
and Observer, Sampson may be the best Native American athlete ever from
Although he excelled in three sports, Sampson was best at basketball
in high school and UNCP and had an outstanding coaching career at Magnolia
He took the news with characteristic modesty.
"It's something I did not expect, but I'm glad and I feel honored
by being selected," Samson told Earl Vaughn Jr. of the Fayetteville
Observer. "I really enjoyed playing ball. When we came along, that's
about all there was to do, that and work."
Sampson went on to a great career at UNC Pembroke. His talents went
mostly unnoticed nationally, but after a game against a traveling all-star
team, Sampson received a letter from Duke All-American Dick Groat saying
he was the best basketball player he had ever played against.
He averaged 24.3 points per game in his senior season at UNCP in 1952,
and he scored a school record 40 points against Campbell University.
At 6-foot 2, 190 pounds, Sampson was a pure shooter who could use either
hand, according to "Playing Before an Overflow Crowd," the
book by Bruce Barton and Tim Brayboy that chronicled the all-Indian
"This is the best thing I've heard in a long time," Barton
said of the Hall of Fame nomination. "He's my hero and a class
act. Mr. Ned has more friends than anybody I know."
Sampson coached at Magnolia from 1953 through 1967, winning Indian
High School Athletic Conference championships in both men's and women's
basketball. He was a teacher, coach and athletic director at Pembroke
High from 1968 through 1977.
Ronnie Chavis, who helped nominate Sampson for the hall, said he always
got the best out of his players. Chavis is athletic director for the
Public Schools of Robeson County and serves on several NCHSAA committees.
"I'm very happy for Mr. Ned because he's getting his due,"
said Chavis, who played against Sampson's teams and later worked for
him. "He always seemed the same, win or lose. He took the talent
he had and worked extremely hard to bring out the best in them."
The all-Indian conference was not sanctioned by the NCHSAA, and Sampson's
election is an important recognition of its outstanding players, coaches
and fans, Chavis said.
Basketball is in the Sampson family's blood. Son, Kelvin, played basketball
and baseball at Pembroke High School and later at UNCP. He is head basketball
coach at Oklahoma University.
Ned and Kelvin are the only father-son tandem in UNCP's Athletic Hall
"He was a great, great athlete," Kelvin said of his father
in his biography, "Kelvin Sampson, The OU Basketball Story."
"I was inducted more for what I accomplished after I left. He was
inducted for what he accomplished there."
While the Sampsons prepare for another basketball season, Mr. Ned has
a few additional dates on his calendar.
The eight new members of the NCHSAA Hall of Fame will be honored at
Kenan Stadium on September 25 at UNC-Chapel Hill's game with the University
of Louisville. The new members will officially be inducted at a Hall
of Fame banquet next spring at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill.
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