Ex-Queens prep star Sylven Landesberg charts his NBA path through Israel's Maccabi Haifa
Six months after the unexpected derailment of his college career, Brooklyn-born Sylven Landesberg is using a Middle East detour to get back on track toward his NBA dream. The 20-year-old former star at Holy Cross, in Flushing, signed a two-year deal in July with Israel’s Maccabi Haifa; his new team plays the Nets in an exhibition game on Sunday at Newark’s Prudential Center.
For Landesberg, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. “That was one of the hardest days I went through in my life,” Landesberg said of watching the NBA draft in June and not hearing his name called. “I’ve been preparing my whole entire life for [the NBA] and I felt like it was taken away from me.”
Landesberg led Holy Cross to its first CHSAA title in more than 40 years with a dramatic victory over Christ the King.
“When your best player is also your hardest worker, that’s a great recipe for success and that certainly was the case for Sylven,” said longtime Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary.
The 6-foot-6 guard won ACC Freshman of the Year honors at Virginia in 2008-09. But in March, the school abruptly suspended Landesberg for failing to live up to “academic obligations,” and he turned his attention to going pro.
After being passed over in the draft, Landesberg was invited to the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team, but he wasn’t called back to training camp.
With no clear idea where he was going next, Landesberg looked to Europe to begin his professional career. He obtained dual citizenship (his father, Steven, is Jewish) and headed to Israel. Landesberg said his father helped him “every single step of the way.”
“I saw a gift in Sylven when he was very young, and I approached it like going to work, just keeping at it,” Steven Landesberg said.
At his New York-area homecoming against the Nets on Sunday, Sylven said he will definitely have a “cheering section.” Landesberg, whose mother is from Trinidad, said his father, Steven, who is Jewish, helped him gain dual citizenship in Israel and sign with Haifa.
He attributes his drive to his father, who helped him “every single step of the way,” Sylven said. “I saw a gift in Sylven when he was very young and I approached it like going to work just keeping at it,” said Steven. Sylven is excited for his homecoming on Sunday, when he says he will definitely have a “cheering section.”