Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Sylven Landesberg left Virginia after his sophomore season with hopes of getting drafted into the NBA.
Instead, the Queens native went undrafted and ended up playing in Israel, far from home and the bright lights of the NBA.
Still, the 6-foot-6 former Queens Holy Cross star says he doesn’t regret leaving school early.
“When I came out I thought I was ready to compete,” Landesberg told SNY.tv following a workout Monday at the Nets free agent mini-camp. “Just watching myself now two years later, I’ve grown a lot as a player. Looking back, I’ve grown a lot. I feel like I got a lot better since those past two years.”
A McDonald’s All-American and Mr. New York Basketball, Landesberg was the subject of a heated recruiting battle coming out of Paul Gilvary’s Holy Cross program. In the fall of 2007, he chose Virginia over St. John’s and Georgia Tech, dealing another recruiting blow to then-Johnnies coach Norm Roberts, who two years later would miss out on local stars Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati) and Tobias Harris (Tennessee).
In his first year at Virginia under Dave Leitao, Landesberg was named ACC Rookie of the Year after averaging 16.6 points and 6.0 rebounds.
After Leitao resigned in March 2009, Landesberg opted to stay and play for new coach Tony Bennett.
He was named second-team All-ACC after leading the Cavaliers at 17.3 points per game as a sophomore, but opted to leave after one year under Bennett.
Landesberg declined to comment on his relationship with Bennett.
After going undrafted, he landed in Israel and has spent the last two seasons with Maccabi Haifa, where he averaged 20.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season.
“I feel like a lot of concerns coming out were my outside shooting,” he said. “I feel like my jump shot is a lot better now. I can consistently just hit open jump shots. And a big part of my game I take a lot of pride in now is my defense. So that was a big knock, too. So just coming out here and making sure I can create plays for other players and knock shots down.”
Landesberg, whose father’s family is Jewish, said his mother and sister both spent time in Israel last season and his father was there the year before.
“This was my second year out there,” he said. “It’s pretty much like a home away from home out there this year so it was pretty cool.”
“Playing overseas was fun,” he added. “I learned a lot, matured off the court and on the court but I’m definitely anxious to try to get back and play in the States.”
In Jeff Schwartz, Landesberg shares the same agent as Nets free agent point guard Deron Williams, who watched the workout Monday.
Landesberg has upcoming workouts with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, but wouldn’t mind staying home in New York and playing in Brooklyn.
Even if he is a Queens guy.
“Oh, yeah,” he said, “that would be really, really cool playing in Brooklyn.”
Photo: Daily News
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.