Pitino, according to Art Alvarez, the president of the Miami Tropics AAU program, was in Miami Monday to get a closer look at Angel Rodriguez, a 5'10 point guard from Michael Krop H.S.
"They came down to see Angel and have offered him [a scholarship]," Alvarez said. "And we've already set up the [official] visit with Louisville."
Alvarez said Rodriquez has narrowed his list to three schools – Kansas State, Louisville and N.C. State – and will visit those programs before making a decision. A three-star recruit, Rodriguez trips to Kansas State this weekend, then visits Louisville on Oct. 22-23, followed by N.C. State on Oct. 29-30.
"We've decided those are the three schools we're going to deal with," Alvarez said. "Angel wants to play in a big conference and it doesn't get any bigger than the Big 12, Big East and the ACC. He's not going to commit to Kansas State on this visit. He's going to take all his visits. He's definitely going to visit Louisville and he's looking forward to seeing their new arena...He's excited to spend some time with Coach Pitino."
While Kansas State and N.C. State have been recruiting Rodriguez longer than Louisville, Alvarez said the Cardinals have a "legitimate" shot to land the under-the-radar guard.
"They have a true need at that position," Alvarez said of UofL. "He [Pitino] told Angel that he can come in [as a freshman] and play major minutes. Since [Pitino] offered a scholarship he's been working him real hard. And [UofL assistant] coach [Mark] Lieberman, who we have a very good relationship with, has been working him real hard. [Louisville] is definitely not too late in the game. They have a legitimate shot to get this kid."
Alvarez compared Rodriguez to J.J. Barea, a four-year NBA veteran for the Dallas Mavericks who serves as Jason Kidd's backup.
"Angel is a clone of J.J.," Alvarez said. "We've had great guards in our program, Dennis Clemente (Kansas State), Guillermo Diaz (Miami) and David Huertas (Ole Miss), but we've never had a guy just like J.J. He knows how to play, he's knows when to push, he doesn't turn the ball over, makes the players around him better. His court awareness and intelligence for the game is off the charts."
As a junior, Rodriguez averaged 21 points per game and was named first team all-state.
"This kid is more athletic than J.J.," Alvarez said. "He can dunk a basketball at 5'10. He's probably a little ahead of J.J. when he was in high school because he finishes so well around the basket. He's a pass first, shoot second kind of point guard, but last year in two games national television, one game he had 40 points and the other he had 37. He can be a great scorer, but he's a big-time team player. He's a type of kid I could see playing in the [Big East] averaging 12-15 points and 7-9 assists."
Rodriguez is coached in high school by Shakey Rodriguez, who sent Gimel Martinez and Allen Edwards to Pitino when he was the coach at Kentucky.