When we posted about our intern search last week, we heard from all sorts of people. But one person that stood out from the pack was Lucas Shapiro. An avid Dime reader and basketball fanatic who even has his own NBA blog, while Lucas would love to intern, he is only 16 years old and lives in Boston. (Also, he doesn’t have his license.) But nonetheless, we thought we’d pass the mic to the young buck to put the rest of the world on to Virginia’s Sylven Landesberg. Here’s his story:
During the summer of 2008, I got to see a McDonald’s All-American play and I did not even know it. I was at basketball camp at the University of Virginia and did not know much about the players on the team. All that I knew was that Virginia was supposed to be in the basement of the ACC.
While the UVA squad scrimmaged, all that I could think about was how bad this team would be next season since Sean Singletary had just left. I had very low expectations while watching this game. Many of my friends that were at this open gym session wanted to shoot around on the other baskets, but I wanted to sit and watch.
Virginia assistant coach Rick Brunson, an ex-NBA sharpshooter, was giving the starting unit “the business.” Brunson was talking smack and backing it up with all of the treys he kept knocking down. To tell you the truth, I was embarrassed for the players on the court.
Suddenly, I noticed one player begin to heat up. This kid kept slashing through the lane and getting his way while scoring at every possible angle. On one trip down, he came through with a steal and dunked it. This caught my attention and I was completely tuned in to the game. He just kept knocking down mid-range shots and nobody could stop him. This kid took over the game and nobody around me seemed to notice as everyone was focused on Coach Brunson who kept talking trash and demoralizing the other team.
How could this guy go unnoticed? I went home to look up the mystery player on the roster and I realized I had just watched Sylven Landesberg. New Yorkers should be familiar with this kid after he averaged nearly 30 points per game in high school along with 11.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists as a senior at Holy Cross High School. Disappointed that I had not gone up and talked to him when I had the opportunity, I knew I would hear about him in the future. Yet, for some reason, I did not hear much about him over the next year.
I have yet to see a freshman basketball player who had a quieter yet more dominant season. The 6-6 shooting guard out of Queens averaged 16.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season. In one of the best conferences in the nation, Landesberg won the ACC Rookie of the Year competing against Ed Davis, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eliot Williams and Chris Singleton for this award.
Sure, you could make the argument that Landesberg got the most minutes out of the bunch and was on a bad team, but he did lead his team through some impressive upsets. He dropped 23 points on Clemson beating them in overtime, something Duke certainly could not do. This game was especially impressive considering how well Clemson traditionally does against other ACC teams. Overall, he dropped 20+ points 11 other times last year, playing the entire season the same way that he did during the scrimmage I had watched: quiet, yet dominant.
This season, the smooth guard is ready to get noticed and become a household name. And as one of 50 preseason candidates for the 2009-10 Wooden Award All-American Team and Player of the Year honors, he’s well on his way.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.