Archive for January, 2009

Landesberg beyond 2009

January 23, 2009

I may be the only one who wants to ask this question publicly, but are we certain Virginia’s Sylven Landesberg will be a Cavalier beyond this season?


The rise and fall of the prodigious freshman over the past two months has been well-documented, but here is a quick recap…


28, 8, and 8 in his debut against VMI causes coach Dave Leitao to gush, “You flirt with a triple-double right out of the box, that tells you something. That answers a question or two.”  Double-digit points in his first eight games – including 20+ in seven of his first 11 – leads to five ACC Rookie of the Week awards.  Lengthy profiles appear in the local press, detailing his strict training regime in high school –including boxing and endless playground contests – which lead to a city championship & McDonald’s All-American honors.  No field goals and a season-low four points against Ivy League-Brown, while suffering from a “head cold,” followed by a bounce-back game in Blacksburg with 20 points on 7-11 shooting in a loss to VPI.  Horrible shooting performances net two and seven points in ACC losses to UNC at home and at Maryland on the road, respectively.


Over the first 11 games of the season – ten nonconference and an away tilt against Georgia Tech – Virginia one six and lost five, thanks in large part to Landesberg’s efforts.  Over the past two – both ACC losses – Landesberg has looked rather pedestrian, but his effect on the team result has been equally significant:






% of Team Pts







First 11 games











Last 2 games












The two recent performances have left doubts around Landesberg’s effectiveness in conference, especially given the lack of talent surrounding him on Virginia’s roster.  After dropping 26 on Georgia Tech in Atlanta earlier in the year, UNC and Maryland clearly had a plan to stop the freshman.  After doing just that, Carolina coach Roy Williams commented “He’s going to be a complete player.  There’s no question about that.  Right now his game is more driving the ball to the hole.  And so we were trying to make sure we cut off his driving lanes.”  Following the Maryland loss, Landesberg admitted Maryland ”did a good job of defending me, but I think I was a little out of it today.”  Leitao challenged his young star to “continue to adjust to a higher level of coaching a higher level of preparation and a higher level of execution by our opponents.  When you start out the season scoring the way he was scoring I think it sets up things.”


So where does this leave the Landesbeg-Virgnia relationship?  Is there hope to salvage a successful individual season with 12 remaining conference games on the docket and a clear blueprint for stopping both Landesberg and the team now available?  How far will his scoring average (now at 16.6 per game) after road trips to Duke and UNC within the first seven days of February?  Is the ACC ROY award that was once thought to be a lock, now in jeopardy, especially given the play of UNC’s Ed Davis, BC’s Reggie (not that Reggie) Jackson, GT’s Iman (not that Iman) Shumpert, and Wake’s Al-Farouq Aminu?


Beyond this year, does it make sense from his perspective for Landesberg to stick around?  Would his development benefit from more talent around him?  There’s not much on Virginia’s roster currently, and not much coming in next year.  Will Landesberg develop into a better pro prospect by being “the man” on a bad team against a high level of competition, having the ball in his hands at all crucial times and being forced to create his own shot more often than not?


Or – gasp – would sacrificing a year to transfer to a better program do more for Landesberg in the long run?  Yes, Virginia’s great academics and cozy location were cited by both father & son after singing with Leitao, but does this become a long-term financial and career-focused decision now?  Some recent transfers have had success in the NBA draft & beyond, including:


  • Jason Williams (MarshallàFlorida) – 7th pick, 1998
  • Michael Bradley (KentuckyàVillanova) – 17th pick, 2001
  • Dahntay Jones (RutgersàDuke) – 20th pick, 2001
  • Dan Dickau (WashingtonàGonzaga) – 28th pick, 2002
  • Damien Wilkins (NCSUàGeorgia) – undrafted but signed, 2004
  • Orien Greene (FloridaàLouisiana-Lafayette): 53rd pick, 2005
  • James White (FloridaàCincinnati) – 31st pick, 2006
  • Dominic McGuire (CalàFresno State) – 47th pick, 2007


Virginia transfers, however, have not been so lucky.  Both Derrick Byars (VirginiaàVanderbilt) and Gary Forbes (VirginiaàUMass) are now playing in the NBDL.  Byars (42nd pick, 2007) scored 33 points last night for the Bakersfield Jam, while Forbes (undrafted, 2008 ) scored 30 himself in an earlier game as a member of the Sioux Falls Skyforce.


A one-and-done leap to the NBA by Landesberg now seems out the question after the most recent two-game stretch.  However, as recently as January 14th called him “one of, if not, the most productive freshman in the country” and “a very intriguing NBA prospect.”  The site praised his “smooth demeanor,” “savvy and aggressiveness,” saying his “ability to get to the basket is undeniable,” and he “puts pressure on the defense for 40 minutes and is always in attack mode.”  The conclusion drawn was that Landesberg “has a game that could translate to the next level if he continues to improve his all-around skill-level and polish and learns how to overcome his athletic limitations.”


Not exactly screaming for him to be a lottery-pick, but we’ve seen a familiar face jump early, be drafted

late, get knocked out of the league, only to come back and develop

 the beginnings

a great NBA career while also commenting on politics.


Not to mention guys in other sports who leave with what ended up being and what appears to be little hope of being drafted high.  The latter even went to high school with our man Sylven.