Angel Rodriguez, Kansas State’s point guard from Puerto Rico, announced Monday that he is transferring from Kansas State after leading the Wildcats to a Big 12 championship this season.
Once a freshman with a tendency to dribble too much and drive too wildly into the paint, Rodriguez matured this season into an electric playmaker who ranked near the top of the league in assists-to-turnover ratio. He contributed 11.4 points per game and 5.2 assists per game. He drained 3s in big moments, sliced to the rim for layups and got to the foul line. Coaches voted him All-Big 12 Second Team and Big 12 All-Defensive Team.
In short, the sophomore looked ready to be a leader in 2013-2014, ready to help push Kansas State to make this year’s league title more than an anomaly.
Instead, Rodriguez is the third of three players who are leaving the program before their eligibility has expired.
“It is important that everyone understands that this was a really difficult decision,” Rodriguez said. “I have really enjoyed my time here and this decision was based entirely on my family and has nothing do with Kansas State, basketball or the coaching staff. It’s unfortunate after the year we just had, but I just feel right now this is the best thing for me and my family. Whether it is the right choice or not, family has and always will be first with me.”
His statement included more favorable comments about head coach Bruce Weber, who replaced former coach Frank Martin and had to re-recruit Rodriguez, among others, to stay after Martin left. Rodriguez said he made the right choice to stay, even though he is leaving now.
“It was the right decision to come here and I don’t regret it all,” Rodriguez said. “Coach Weber and his staff made the transition a lot easier than I ever thought it would be. He made me a better player and to play with more confidence. I never thought I would get this close to my teammates. The past few days have been difficult for me, just thinking how this decision would impact them. However, at the end of the day, I have do what I think is best for my mom and my brothers.”
A native of San Juan, Rodriguez played his first two years of college basketball more than 2,000 miles away from home. His mother came to a game this season, and it was the first time she had seen him play since before high school. While Weber is undoubtedly disappointed by the defection of his point guard of the future, he could hardly be critical in his explanation of Rodriguez’s reason for leaving.
“After multiple conversations, Angel feels an obligation to be closer to his family,” Weber stated. “His mother is raising his two younger brothers all by herself in San Juan and he just wants to be able to see them more often.”
The coach added that while Rodriguez played an integral part in the team’s championship run this season, his loss is an opportunity for someone else to emerge in a bigger role. The Wildcats now have three scholarships available for the coming year.