Coming off of one of the best seasons in school history, the future of the K-State basketball team looked very promising. Despite losing seniors Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving, the Wildcats appeared to have a solid core of players coming back in Bruce Weber’s second season.
However, that appearance was shattered on Monday evening when it was announced that sophomore point guard Angel Rodriguez had decided to transfer from K-State to a university closer to home.
Rodriguez ranked second this season in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.24 and ranked third in assists with 5.2 per game. He also averaged 11.4 points per game, ranking second behind Rodney McGruder’s 15.6, and was named to the All-American second team in the Big 12 conference.
Make no doubt about it, this is a very big loss for the K-State men’s basketball team. Losing Rodriguez means that the Wildcats will bring back no player who averaged more than nine points a game during the season, leaving junior forward Shane Southwell as the leading scorer at 8.4 points per game.
K-State is not just losing Rodriguez’s numbers, however. The team is also losing his leadership and presence on the court.
As point guard, it was Rodriguez’s responsibility to be the “quarterback” of the offense, making sure that all of his teammates were in the right place. He was also the player that the team looked to for the fiery attitude and never-back-down mentality that he showed in pivotal games like the Big 12 semifinals.
Going up against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Rodriguez went toe-to-toe with Big 12 player and freshman of the year Marcus Smart. In that game, Smart had 18 points, three assists and three steals, while Rodriguez had 17 points, four assists and three steals.
While Rodriguez will be missed, the cupboard is not completely bare for the K-State men’s basketball program.
With Southwell coming back for the Wildcats, K-State does have a player who has proved capable of having an all-Big 12-caliber season. In addition, junior guard Will Spradling and sophomore forward Thomas Gipson are two Wildcats who have started at least 36 games in their careers.
However, the loss will put added pressure on incoming freshmen like Marcus Foster and Jevon Thomas, especially became Thomas is the only true point guard on the team.
Spradling saw some time at the point throughout his first three years as a Wildcat, but is much better when he is able to play off of the ball.
The biggest question that fans will ask throughout the off-season and at the start of the next basketball season will be whether Spradling, Foster and Thomas step up and take the reins of the K-State basketball team.
Although he was only at K-State for two seasons, Rodriguez was a standout player in the Wildcat uniform. Many players will have to take their games to another level for the Wildcats to compete in the Big 12 next season.
Mark Kern is a senior in print journalism. Please send comments to [email protected]