Three days after losing point guard Shane Larkin to the NBA Draft, the University of Miami signed a promising replacement who is no stranger to South Florida.
Former Miami Krop High point guard Angel Rodriguez transferred from Kansas State after two seasons to be closer to his family in Puerto Rico and landed exactly where he wanted to be — at UM. Rodriguez visited with Hurricanes coaches Wednesday, toured the campus and had signed by mid-day. He plans to enroll in summer classes in a few weeks.
The only question now is whether he will have to sit out next season per NCAA transfer rules or whether the NCAA will grant him a hardship exemption because his transfer is family-related.
“Angel is an exceptional point guard,” UM coach Jim Larrañaga said. “When you watch him, you immediately notice his ball-handling and passing skills. He can also hit the open shot. Like Shane, 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, especially since Shane made his decision.”
Shakey Rodriguez, who coached Angel Rodriguez (no relation) at Miami Dr. Krop High, said: “Angel is a great addition to UM, and he’ll fit right in. He is a true point guard with great court vision. He’s tough, savvy, makes teammates better, and he has the intangibles. He’s unselfish, a great person, has a 3.1 GPA, and he wants to be in Miami.”
Larrañaga agreed: “You have to feel fortunate when a player of his caliber and character calls you and says, ‘I need to play closer to home.’ 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.”
Rodriguez, who is 5-11, averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists as a sophomore. He led the Wildcats in three-pointers, assists and steals and was named second-team All-Big 12 and a first-team, all-conference defender.
He was recruited to Kansas State by former Miami High coach Frank Martin, who left for South Carolina last year. Louisville and North Carolina State were among the other schools that offered him scholarships coming out of high school.
“His surrogate family is here in Miami, and it’s easier for him to see his mother and brothers from here,” Shakey Rodriguez said.
“Basketball-wise, he was fine at Kansas State, but he decided it wasn’t where he belonged from a personal level.”
Asked to compare Rodriguez to Larkin, Shakey Rodriguez said both are “fun to watch.” Larkin is “more explosive and a better athlete,” the coach said, but Rodriguez “might have better vision. They’re pretty similar. There won’t be a significant drop-off from Shane to Angel.”
Last week, UM signed another point guard, 5-11 Emmanuel LeComte of Belgium.
"Manu LeComte is a true point guard. He is quick and fast and can shoot. He will have to learn the American college game but with the loss of Shane Larkin and Angel Rodriguez (probably) having to sit a year, it is nice to have a point guard who can play right away."
Sources close to the team said Texas transfer Sheldon McClellan, a 6-4 guard, is also interested in UM. He was the Longhorns’ leading scorer as a sophomore and is said to be looking at UM, Illinois, Marquette and Oregon.