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Sylven Landesberg planned all along to leave Virginia after sophomore season

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 28, 2010; D06

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Virginia guard Sylven Landesberg's decision to leave school was not related to his season-ending suspension, according to interviews with both Sylven Landesberg and Steve Landesberg, Sylven's father. Both said Sylven Landesberg's intent all along was to leave Virginia after his sophomore season and try his hand at professional basketball.

"My mind was pretty set," Sylven Landesberg said Saturday in his first interview since the season-ending suspension and the university's announcement that he was going to pursue a professional career. "I told my father before the season that I'm pretty sure I'm going to leave after this year. I think I'm ready."

Landesberg, who was named ACC rookie of the year in 2009 and was a second-team all-ACC performer this season, returned to New York for workouts last summer, including invitation-only games at the New York Athletic Club with professional basketball players. The performances helped convince him of his professional prospects.

Said Steve Landesberg: "It's something that's been his lifelong dream to play in the NBA. And when you're young, you want the world today. You don't want to wait till tomorrow. That's basically the theme going back to school all year. Unfortunately, it didn't end up so nicely."

Sylven Landesberg emphasized that he did not have a sour relationship with nor hard feelings for Virginia Coach Tony Bennett. Steve Landesberg said that Bennett and the season-ending suspension because of academics were not related to his son's decision to leave. Sylven Landesberg said he is thankful that he was able to play for Bennett and would only say positive things to others if they asked about his former coach.

"We want to make that clear: There is no hate between us and Tony," Steve Landesberg said. "Sylven didn't go to classes. . . . There's no secret about that. I wish Sylven had had a better relationship with Tony so he could have been a little more honest and told him up front and Tony could have straightened him out a little bit, but we had a very good relationship with Tony. And to this day, I'll say Tony presents himself exactly as he is. He's a decent, good guy. And people support us, they should also realize that we like Tony. They shouldn't take anything out on Tony."

Sylven Landesberg did not want to comment on his suspension, only confirming that he skipped class because he planned to leave school early.

For more on Landesberg's decision, visit Cavaliers Journal at voices.washingtonpost.com/cavaliers-journal

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