Johnnies unable to seal the deal with Syl

Sylven Landesberg, one of the Red Storm’s top basketball prospects from the class of 2008, has turned down St. John’s University, deciding to play his college ball for the University of Virginia.

Landesberg announced his commitment to Virginia on Thursday at Holy Cross high school in Flushing, where he is a senior. He chose Virginia from a short list that included St. John’s as well as Georgia Tech.

“I felt I would be most comfortable at Virginia,” said Landesberg. “The group of guys they have, I felt like I fit in really well with them. When they showed me the campus, I felt that was my kind of lifestyle.”

The 6-6, 200-pound shooting guard is ranked among the Top-50 seniors in the country, making him the highest profile recruit that coach Norm Roberts and his staff have ever seriously pursued.

Landesberg denied rumors that last week’s gun-related incident on the Queens campus affected his decision not to attend the University. He listed the reasons for his selection as Virginia’s “great education, great [basketball] program, great [coaching] staff and great team.”

“The [lockdown] that happened at St. John’s didn’t really affect my decision at all,” said Landesberg. “That could basically happen anywhere.”

St. John’s, who was scouting Landesberg since the beginning of his sophomore year, was very close to landing him, according to Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary.

“I think Norm Roberts and his staff did a phenomenal job,” said Gilvary. “They did everything right. They did everything in a first-class manner. They presented a tremendous opportunity
to him but he also had other great opportunities.

“Him picking Virginia may be read as a slight to St. John’s, but I really don’t think it is.”

Another contributing factor to Landesberg’s decision is that Virginia is the only school of the three recruiting him to play exclusively point guard, which he preferred. Georgia Tech saw him as more of a wing, whereas St. John’s had told him he would not be playing the point fulltime.

“I really like to have the ball in my hands, so I guess that played a role in it, too,” said Landesberg.

St. John’s students may still see Landesberg on campus from time to time. According to Landesberg, Roberts told him during a phone conversation that he can still use the Taffner Field House to work out if he wants.