Angel Rodriguez is headed back to Miami.
Rodriguez, the former Kansas State point guard, will finish his college basketball career in the same city he attended high school by transferring to the University of Miami, where he will play for Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga and have two years of eligibility remaining.
Rodriguez signed official scholarship papers with the school on Wednesday, little more than a week after he announced his intentions to leave K-State.
“Angel is an exceptional point guard,” Larranaga told the Miami Herald. “When you watch him you immediately notice his ball-handling and passing skills. He can also hit the open shot … He has a pass-first mentality, but if he sees an open lane, he won’t hesitate to attack. We feel very, very good about Angel joining our program.”
Rodriguez left K-State following a strong sophomore season. He was chosen to the all-Big 12 second team and averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists. He helped the Wildcats win 27 games and a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship.
His transfer was viewed as a surprise, because of how much he improved under K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber. Rodriguez signed with K-State because of his relationship with former coach Frank Martin, but matured under Weber. Rodriguez’s production was up, his mistakes were down and he was projected to be one of the top returning point guards in the Big 12 next season.
But he cited a desire to be closer to his family in Puerto Rico, where he grew up before moving to Miami to pursue a college basketball career.
Rodriguez’s former high school coach, Shakey Rodriguez, said he contemplated the transfer for weeks before deciding to look elsewhere.
“It was a very hard decision for him to make, because it was not a basketball issue,” Shakey Rodriguez said by phone. “He liked the coaches. He liked the school. He enjoyed playing there. He was successful there. So it was very difficult. He agonized over that for more than two weeks. At one point he called me and said he was going to stick it out, but he had a change of heart a few days later.
“I was caught off guard by that. But again, it had everything to do with his family. I know he misses his mom a lot. It was a tough situation for him to be in. It was very hard for her to get there (to K-State) financially and he just wanted to be close to her and close to the family so he could be in a support role and live within a short flight.”
Shakey Rodriguez said every Division I program in Florida reached out to him about the former K-State point guard over the past week, but Angel Rodriguez considered Miami the favorite from Day 1.
Larranaga was glad.
“You have to feel fortunate when a player of his caliber and character calls you and says, ‘I need to play closer to home,’” Larranaga told the Miami Herald. “He will be very much at home here in Miami, where so many people speak Spanish, so many people know him, and he is a short flight from his family. He’s also a very bright young man and serious about academics.”
Attempts to reach Angel Rodriguez for comment were not successful.
CBSSports.com reported that he will request a hardship waiver from the NCAA to play next season because of health issues in his family, but Shakey Rodriguez said that may not be the case.
“That is up to the Miami coaching staff to decide,” he said. “No decision has been reached on that.”
NCAA rules require athletes to sit out a year after transferring in most cases. If Rodriguez is granted a waiver by the NCAA, he will try to replace point guard Shane Larkin, who declared early for the NBA Draft. If not, he will practice with the Hurricanes next year and return to the court for the 2014-15 season.