When Bruce Weber arrived on campus last spring, he immediately set about recruiting. Not in the sense of bringing new players to campus, but in convincing both returning players and incoming freshmen recruited by Frank Martin to buy into his system and stay at K-State. Jordan Henriquez obliged, Rodney McGruder said ok, and the rest of the roster followed suit. This year hasn’t been as fortunate, as Angel Rodriguez became the third player to announce his intentions to leave the program on Monday.
The earlier departures of Adrian Diaz and Michael Orris hurt, but their future contributions remained uncertain and neither seemed ready to take on the responsibility of anything more than a role player. Losing Rodriguez hurts. A lot. Arguably the best returning player on the squad, Rodriquez had the opportunity to be the best point guard in the Big 12 his junior year after being named second team All-Big 12 as a sophomore. Yet his stated desire to be closer to his family will likely take him south after he finishes this semester.
“After multiple conversations, Angel feels an obligation to be closer to his family,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber announced to the media. “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.” In leaving the Wildcats, the team loses 28 minutes and 11.4 points per game – both good for second on the team behind McGruder. He led the team in assists and steals and was also second in free throw percentage behind Will Spradling.
The departure creates some immediate questions for the Wildcats, who lose the conduit through which their offense flowed. Incoming freshman PG Nigel Johnson will likely see more playing time than expected, but his talents lie more in shooting than creating scoring opportunities for others. Combined with the departure of senior Martavious Irving, this position may be by committee during the first half of the season as Weber determines how he wants to approach Big 12 play. It also increases the odds of the team going bigger with a more traditional balance of two forwards and a center, making the departure of the 6’10” Diaz even more painful. The opening means Weber will be scouring the JUCO ranks even harder for replacement players during this signing period.
The University of Miami has been widely speculated as Rodriguez’s landing spot. Weber also stated last year that he had to campaign hard to keep Rodriguez on campus, as he was unsure of staying following the departure of Martin for the University of South Carolina.