Virginia's Sylven Landesberg didn't even start thinking about become the Atlantic Coast Conference's rookie of the year until somebody pointed out early in the season he had a chance.
Landesberg's game didn't diminish any after the possibility of winning the award entered his thoughts. He earned the distinction Tuesday when the ACC released its men's basketball individual award winners. He also announced his intentions to return to U.Va. (10-17), which is seeded No. 11 in this week's ACC tournament, for his sophomore season.
"I guess it was a goal of mine," Landesberg said of being rookie of the year. "It wasn't the number one goal, but I guess it was a goal of mine. I thought I was always underrated, but I felt like I could compete with the top of my class."
North Carolina's Ty Lawson topped Florida State's Toney Douglas and UNC teammate Tyler Hansbrough for ACC player of the year. Lawson averaged 15.9 points and 6.5 assists per game in the regular season. He's also shooting 53.8 percent from the floor and sporting a 3.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. But Lawson is questionable to play in the ACC tournament due to a right big-toe injury.
Douglas, who averages 1.9 steals per game while guarding opponents' top scoring guards, was named defensive player of the year. His coach, Leonard Hamilton, picked up the conference's coach-of-the-year award for leading No. 22 FSU (23-8) to an opening-round bye in the ACC tournament with a 10-6 conference record.
Landesberg, a 6-foot-6 native of Flushing, N.Y., will enter Thursday's game in the ACC tournament against No. 6 seed Boston College (21-10) with averages of 16.8 points per game and 34.1 minutes per game, both of which are best among ACC freshmen.
He joins Ralph Sampson (1980), Bryant Stith ('89) and Chris Williams ('99) as the fourth U.Va. men's basketball player to be named ACC rookie of the year. Landesberg finished ahead of Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu in voting for the award — Landesberg had 55 votes, compared to 20 for Aminu.
Landesberg has scored 20 or more points in 12 games, a U.Va. freshman record and double the rest of the ACC's freshmen combined (six). When asked on several occasions during the season if he planned to return to U.Va. after this season, he never gave a definite answer. He did on Tuesday.
"I don't think I accomplished anything for me to leave," Landesberg said. "I don't think as a team we had a successful season. I want to have a winning record in the ACC — be at least in the top four (in the conference). I want to be able to go to the NCAA (tournament). ... There's a lot of things I want to accomplish before I leave this school, so I'm coming back."
ACC honors Player of the year: Ty Lawson, North Carolina.Coach of the year: Leonard Hamilton, Florida State.Defensive player of the year: Toney Douglas, Florida State.Rookie of the year: Sylven Landesberg, Virginia.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times