Brazilian Searching For Right Fit

College basketball is a different game than it was 10 years ago. Back in the day, they'd be lining up for a crack at a 7-3 big man who needs time to develop.

Rodriguez Has Size, Skills

With the average tenure of a college basketball coach somewhere between 5 years and the decision time Michael Jackson needs to have plastic surgery, there's little room for developing or project big men on a high-major roster.

College basketball has morphed into a game of immediate results. Freshmen are expected to play major roles in their first year and sophomores are considered wily veterans. So, just where do big men who need time to develop fit in?

That's the question Laurinburg Institute's Damiao Rodriguez will face next season. The 7-3 big man is the definition of a work in progress. He's been in the country 5 months. He's not the kind of guy who is ready to go out and score 10 points and grab 10 rebounds even in a high school game, but his overall size is indisputable … and likely attractive at the college level.

"If you're in trouble [as a coach], than this is not the recruit for you," Laurinburg coach Rolando DeLaBarrera said. "This guy has to go and spend the first year being the best friend of the coach to hang out and work hard. Once that's accomplished you have a big guy who can shoot with legitimate ball skills."

The question is, what program will 1) have the vision to turn Rodriguez's size into a plus for them and 2) who has the time to do it?

At times, DeLaBarrera has trouble finding enough playing time to let his big man play through mistakes or growing pains. "One of the major things with him is that he's in a rotation with 6 guys. He's got to produce now in order to get the minutes now. He needs the weight training facilities and programs that are available at the highest level. He needs to change weight physically. He needs to get wider shoulders for better distribution of the weight. He needs major strength training."

Rodriguez arrived in the United States weighing 304 pounds. He's down in the 270's now and according to DeLaBerrera, it has increased his agility. The tallest prospect in his age group from Brazil is a lefty who has a feathery touch from downtown. However, that's not what will make him attractive to colleges. At 7-3, he's going to have to get comfortable in the paint and not have contact affect him.

"He's got post moves but athletically he's not where he needs to be to be successful," DeLaBerrera said.

College recruiters can see Rodriguez on the AAU circuit with Raleigh's finest this spring and summer.


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