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Is Ralph Sampson III Serious About Staying In The NBA Draft?

Ralph Sampson III's NBA Draft prospects didn't seem too hot when he first announced that he was entering the 2011 NBA Draft after a somewhat disappointing season with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, but the junior big man is apparently serious about leaving school early.

After a season of averaging 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds, Sampson has traveled to Chicago to work out with Tim Grover of Attack Athletics according to the Star Tribune's Myron P. Medcalf. If that name sounds familiar, it's because Grover gained fame as Michael Jordan's personal trainer and currently count Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Paul Pierce among his all-star clients as well as Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson of the Minnesota Timberwolves (who were in explicably not all-stars this season).

Sampson has until has until Sunday, May 8, to decide if he wants to stay in this year's NBA Draft or wait until he can gain another year of seasoning, but Medcalf makes it sound like Sampson III won't be following in his father's footsteps by staying in school all four years.

Will he stay? Who knows? Seriously, those connected to Sampson and the Gophers don't have any definitive answers at this point. And Sampson hasn't made any public statements about his draft status.

His former AAU coach, Norman Parker, said Sampson may not return to school.

"I think he's leaning toward staying in," Parker said.

It wouldn't be unheard of for Sampson to stay in the draft, but it has to be telling that ESPN's Chad Ford listed Sampson as one of the players that should "run back" to college rather than stay in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.