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Suns add Hall of Famer Sampson to front office

Ralph Sampson joins Suns in development department; ex-UA star Sean Rooks also added to staff.

The Phoenix Suns announced Thursday that recent Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Ralph Sampson is joining the club’s newly formed player development department. Sampson will serve as the department’s assistant coordinator under former NBA player Lindsey Hunter.


The Suns also announced that 12-year NBA veteran and University of Arizona product Sean Rooks will join the department in a supporting role.


“With the addition of Ralph, we now have a development staff of experienced NBA veterans who can help each player at every position on our roster, on and off the court,” Suns general manager Lance Blanks said. “We are excited to have a Hall of Famer and a person of Ralph’s character and integrity around our players every day. Robert Sarver’s commitment of resources will allow us to return this organization to elite status.”


Sampson, 52, will support the coordination of individual development plans for Suns players, with an emphasis on post players. He will serve as a day-to-day mentor for members of the club’s roster and will travel with the team during the season. Sampson will also aid Hunter in the development of the recently established department.


"The opportunity to work with an organization like the Phoenix Suns was one I could not turn down,” Sampson said. “This situation is the right fit for me because of the great people involved, the great location, and because I believe in the direction of the team. Robert Sarver, Lon Babby and Lance Blanks are building something special.”


A member of the 12-person Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2012, the 7-foot-4 Sampson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets, following one of the most decorated collegiate careers in NCAA history. A four-year standout at the University of Virginia, Sampson was a three-time Naismith College Player of the Year and three-time Adolph Rupp Trophy winner as the nation’s player of the year, and he is still the only two-time winner of the John Wooden Award as national player of the year since it was established in 1976-77. As a professional, Sampson was a four-time NBA All-Star and the 1984 NBA Rookie of the Year who retired with career averages of 15.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 456 games with the Rockets (1983-88), Warriors (1988-89), Kings (1989-91) and Bullets (1991-92).


The Suns also announced that 12-year NBA veteran and University of Arizona product Sean Rooks will join the department in a supporting role.


Sampson and Rooks will complete the team's on-court development staff, which also includes Hunter and development coach Corey Gaines, who also serves as head coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.