Northampton Press

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Press photo by Nancy ScholzDonte Rodriguez has been a big player for the Kids this season. Press photo by Nancy ScholzDonte Rodriguez has been a big player for the Kids this season.

Rodriguez playing big for Konkrete Kids

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 by Jeff Moeller Special to the Press in Sports

Growing up, Northampton guard-forward Donte Rodriguez usually one of the big players on his team.

That is, Rodriguez was the tallest or among the taller players on his team.

“When I moved to Northampton and started playing basketball on the fourth and fifth grade teams, I probably was the tallest kids on my team,” said Rodriguez. “I definitely has some trouble because I was pretty a one-dimensional player all with my right hand.

“I had to try and do something more with my height. Some friends and coaches helped me adjust and it became a lot easier. I was 6-foot-1 in seventh grade and gain more confidence.”

Today, the 6-foot-3 Rodriguez is still a big player in the Kids’ scheme as their point guard, as he has been among their leading scorers all season averaging 13.3 points per game and has helped them to an overall 8-5 record.

The two-year tri-captain has done most of his damage in the backcourt, but he can still be a force down low. He is averaging a team-high 2.7 assists per game and shooting 78 percent from the foul line.

“Donte (Rodriguez) has a huge upside,” said Kids’ head coach Coy Stampone. “He is one of our most athletic players and has the team’s best vertical leap.

“This past year, Donte figured out the weight room and embraced our offseason workouts. Added strength has helped him finish at the basket and he always attacks at the rim. He has worked on developing a three-point shot so teams can’t sage off on him. With his size, he creates some matchup problems for our opponents.

“He has seen significant action since his sophomore season, and we look forward to a strong end of the season from him. He and the other seniors have set some lofty goals ahead.”

Despite just snapping a three-game losing streak, Rodriguez remains confident in his team’s chemistry to make a late-season run toward districts. He and several teammates were part of the program’s district final team two years ago.

“We got off to a good start, and most of us have been together for a long time,” he said. “We feel like we can rely on each other to take the lead on any given night. We really have a good team chemistry.

“Zach Gula, Spencer Cole or Issac Harris can have a big game at any time. Jon Altomore is getting better in the post and he has really improved his footwork. He has shown that he can be one of the better big men around.”

Rodriguez plans to spend next year at Northampton Community College to play ball and plan his future.

It will be another big step.

“I’m looking for a year there to better myself,” said Rodriguez. “Right now, I am thinking about getting into education, but that could easily change. I want to go there and then transfer out.

“Until that happens, I want to do everything I can to help us finish the best way we can.”

Rodriguez certainly will have a big part in helping his team reach some new heights.