Art Alvarez, who runs the Miami Tropics AAU program, spoke with Rodriguez while he was in Louisville, then talked with the talented, but underrated point guard Sunday night after he returned to Miami.
"He loved the visit," Alvarez said. "He was really impressed with the fan base and the beautiful arena. He said he's never seen an arena like that in his life. He was impressed with the team and in awe of Coach Pitino. He enjoyed the visit very much, it was overwhelming and he felt that [UofL] could be a real good fit for him. He came back really, really impressed, literally with his mouth open."
While Rodriguez, a Puerto Rico native, lacks exposure and doesn't have a big national reputation, Alvarez believes the 5-11, 180-pound point guard can play for anybody in the country.
"I don't think people in Louisville realize how good of a player Angel is because he's been under exposed on the AAU circuit," Alvarez said. "He might be one of the top five point guards in the country. The only way they're [Uof L fans] going to be able to tell is if he signs with Louisville and he's on the court. If he goes to Louisville people are going to give a lot of credit to Louisville. He's a kid completely under the radar. He's a diamond in the rough."
That's one reason Rick Pitino will be heading back down to Miami Wednesday to see Rodriguez, who is also strongly considering Kansas State and NC State. "I know [Louisville] wants him really bad," Alvarez said.
Pitino has been searching for a physical point guard who can come in next season and make an impact playing behind starting point guard Peyton Siva. Though Louisville has two freshmen on the roster this season who will spell Siva, Pitino continues to seek a point guard who takes care of the basketball, makes other players better and can distribute. Rodriguez, who bench presses 275-pounds, fits that mold.
"We asked Coach Pitino about that," Alvarez said, referring to the three young point guards on UofL's roster this season. "Angel wants to come in and play and that's a vital issue in his decision. I sat down and asked Coach about playing time and he led me to believe that because of the type of point guard Angel is, true point, pass first, he needs that kind of point guard. He feels that he needs a true point [guard] that makes other players around him better to run that team."
Though Alvarez said it's not a certainty that Rodriguez will sign during the early signing period, which begins next week, the point guard will sit down with Alvarez and high school coach Shaky Rodriguez after his visit to NC State and weigh the pros and cons of three remaining schools on his list.
"He's got one other visit to NC State that he wants to take and then we're going to make a decision," Alvarez said. "We're going to look at what's the best fit for the kid. I know Louisville is going to have a legitimate shot at landing Angel.
"Frank Martin [Kansas State coach] and NC State want him really bad. Frank's point guard, Jacob Pullen, will be gone and Angel could step in and play right away. NC State's point guard is also a senior and Angel could come in and start right away. I think with Louisville's situation that might be a little more difficult to do because of [Siva]. So that could become an issue down the road. But with everything that Louisville brings to the table I believe they have a legitimate shot."