Ralph Sampson, Virginia's all-America basketball center, is leaning heavily toward returning to school for his junior year, it was learned last night.

Meanwhile, it also was learned that Maryland junior forward Buck Williams is considering turning pro. He would have to declare eligibility for the June 9 draft by midnight tonight.

Sampson is being pulled by the offer of million-dollar contracts by Dallas and Detroit, but sources close to him say he is just about committed to staying at Charlottesville.

However, it was also learned from reliable sources that Indiana's Irish Thomas and De Paul's Mark Aguirre will declare themselves eligible for the draft. Sophomore Thomas was the star point guard for the NCAA champions, while forward Aguirre was one of the nation's top collegiate players last season.

Williams said throughout the season that unless he received a tremendous offer, he would return to Maryland for his senior season. During the last 48 hours, he has learned that at least one NBA, team, the Dallas Mavericks, would consider making him a No. 1 draft pick -- if they could not get Sampson.

"I don't know wht Buck is going to do," Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said last night. Unitl a few days ago, Driesell was saying that Williams has not spoken to him about the possibility of leaving.

Williams, who went home to Rocky Mount, N.C., last weekend, could not be reached for comment last night.