ORLANDO, Fla. - The following is a press release from UCF Athletics:
Throughout his basketball career, dating back to his time at nearby Lake Howell High School and during his years as a star point guard at VCU, Joey Rodriguez knew that he one day wanted to be a coach. Best known for leading VCU to the 2011 Final Four, Rodriguez is now ready to start his coaching career close to home at UCF.
Rodriguez recently joined Donnie Jones' coaching staff as an assistant video coordinator. He is grateful for the opportunity to begin his post-playing career in Orlando.
"I always wanted to coach," he said. "I thought it would be good to get into it early. I want to be a head coach at a young age. I think the younger I start, the better it will be for me in the future."
Rodriguez comes to UCF an already impressive résumé. During the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the senior led the 11th-seeded Rams to victories over Kansas, Florida State, Purdue, Georgetown and Southern Cal.
Rodriguez barely left the court during the tournament, averaging 9.0 points and 7.7 assists in 34.8 minutes per game. He filled up the stat sheet with 17 points and seven assists in the second-round victory over Georgetown and followed that performance with 12 points and 11 assists in the third round versus Purdue. Against Florida State in the Sweet 16, Rodriguez dished out 10 assists. And on the biggest stage - versus Butler in the Final Four - he recorded eight assists.
After concluding his collegiate career, he played professionally in Puerto Rico and Turkey. This summer, he trained in preparation to return to Turkey, but conversations with Jones, who he has known since he attended Florida basketball camps in Gainesville as a middle school student, turned his attention to starting his coaching career early. Rodriguez has a family of his own now, which made the opportunity to work with the Knights even more appealing.
"It was hard to walk away from playing," Rodriguez said. "I had a contract to go back to Turkey. The opportunity at UCF came along and it was perfect."
In his role with the Knights, Rodriguez will break down film of UCF's opponents and also dissect the team's practice clips.
"I told coach Jones that I wanted to learn video. I know how important that is. Being in college for four years, you see how hard the coaches work. I told him what I wanted to do, and he said that they'd love to have me," Rodriguez said.
Jones goes out of his way to nurture young coaches - he was noticeably proud earlier this month when UCF assistant director of operations J.P. Clark was hired as a player development coach by the Boston Celtics - and is excited to be able to work with Rodriguez as starts his coaching career.
"I have known Joey for years and have always respected him as a player and as a person," Jones said. "If you watched Joey play at VCU, or even back in high school, you just knew that he would be a coach one day. He loves basketball and is so knowledgeable about the game and we are thrilled to have him join our basketball family."
Although Rodriguez will spend most of breaking down film, he also hopes to serve as a mentor for UCF players. And who better to advise the current Knights than an individual who had success at the highest level of college basketball.
"I was in college for four years. I had a lot of ups and downs," Rodriguez said. "Whenever they need something, they can come and talk to me. I've had a lot of experience. I almost transferred. I was homesick. I've been through it all. I hope to be someone there for them to talk to."