MANHATTAN — The Kansas State basketball team lost another transfer on Monday, and this time the departure will leave a significant hole in the Wildcats’ returning lineup.
Sophomore point guard Angel Rodriguez, who is coming off an impressive season in which he was named to the Big 12’s all-conference second team, has decided to leave the program, the school announced in a press release Monday evening. The reason given for the transfer: Rodriguez wants to finish his college basketball career closer to his family in Puerto Rico.
“After multiple conversations, Angel feels an obligation to be closer to his family,” K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber said in a statement. “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.”
Rodriguez, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, is from San Juan, P.R., and averaged 9.8 points and 4.2 assists during his two seasons with K-State. Last year, he cut down on his freshman mistakes and averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists. He led the Wildcats in four categories, including 3-pointers, assists and steals.
His transfer comes as a surprise. Rodriguez committed to K-State because of his close relationship with former coach Frank Martin and contemplated transferring during the offseason, but decided to stay put after meeting Weber.
“It is important that everyone understands that this was a really difficult decision,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “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.”
He showed significant improvement as a sophomore and could have been one of the Big 12’s top point guards next season, if not the nation.
“We had a great year,” Rodriguez added. “It was the right decision to come here and I don’t regret it all. 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.”
Attempts to reach Rodriguez for further comment were unsuccessful.
With fellow starters Will Spradling and Shane Southwell coming back along with Thomas Gipson, the Wildcats appeared to have a quality nucleus to build on. But without Rodriguez, the Wildcats now return only three players who have consistently played meaningful minutes.
K-State have lost Rodney McGruder, Martavious Irving and Jordan Henriquez to graduation, while Michael Orris and backup forward Adrian Diaz both announced their intentions to transfer within the last month.
That means reserves Omari Lawrence, Nino Williams and D.J. Johnson will all take on increased workloads next season. And at least some of K-State’s incoming recruits -- Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu, Jevon Thomas, Neville Fincher and recently committed Nigel Johnson – will need to contribute right away.
“Angel really had a great season for us and has emerged as one of the top point guards in the country,” Weber said. “His personal improvement this past year was obviously a big factor in our run to the Big 12 title. However, just like the loss of our three seniors, this will be another opportunity for someone else to step up.”