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Cross star chases NBA spot

Brooklyn native and former Holy Cross star Sylven Landesberg is maturing his hoops game in hopes at a second chance at the NBA.
Photo by Joseph Staszewski
By Joseph Staszewski

Sylven Landesberg is ready to take another shot at the NBA. It will just have to wait.

The former Holy Cross and Virginia University star is in the second year of a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Basketball Super League. Landesberg has an opt-out clause after this year that will allow him to once again pursue a chance at the NBA.

“Going overseas is a great experience, but the ultimate goal is the NBA,” Landesberg said. “When my contract is up, I am going to test the waters again.”

The 6-foot-6 Landesberg, who has Israeli citizenship, went undrafted in 2010 after leaving Virginia after his sophomore year and had to prove himself overseas. Two years ago he averaged 20.7 points per game and 5.4 rebounds playing for Maccabi Haifa, which did not compete outside Israel. Last season, his production dipped in a different league and with a bump up in competition. Landesberg, who calls it the next step, scored just 5.8 points but shooting 55.4 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range.

“Being able to play against other European teams, it’s a different type of competition, a different type of game,” he said.

Landesberg, who played for the Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks in last year’s summer league, was a McDonald’s All-American at Holy Cross, which won the CHSAA city title in 2008. Landesberg was also named New York State Mr. Basketball. He was the ACC Rookie of the Year and a second team all-conference selection as a sophomore for Virginia, averaging 17.3 points per contest. It was frustrating for him not to have been picked up by a team after he chose to leave college after two seasons.

“It’s disappointing, but you learn from it,” Landesberg said. “You just continue to work.”

It’s only added to his motivation to make his dream a reality. Former Holy Cross assistant Coach Lloyd Desvigne, who was watching Landesberg play with Primetime at Nike Pro City at Baruch College, still holds 6 a.m. workout with Landesberg at Holy Cross when he is around.

Landesberg said he was told to work on his jumper, but for Desvigne it was a matter of his body maturing to make the difference. He thinks he still hasn’t reached his potential year, but is more prepared now for a run at the NBA than he was out of college.

“He’s definitely ready now,” Desvigne said. “He looks more like a grown man. You can’t rush Mother Nature, no matter what you try to do.”

Landesberg hopes he has enough seasoning to be ready if his name is called for the NBA this time around.

“I’m driven every day by that,” Landesberg said. “That’s still the ultimate goal.”

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