Ruben Rodriguez will do something this week that he hasn’t done since before he was in kindergarten.
The Reading High junior will travel to Puerto Rico for the first time since he was 5 and will try out for the US island territory’s 17-and-under National Basketball Team.
“Being able to fly down to Puerto Rico to try out for a national team is not something everybody gets to do,” Rodriguez said. “Having that opportunity is amazing. I’m happy I’m able to go down there and visit family.
“Being able to go down there and show my skills is going to be really fun.”
He was named the 2021-22 Berks County Player of the Year after he led the Red Knights (26-4) to the Berks League and District 3 Class 6A championships. He averaged a league-leading 19.8 points and 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.2 steals per game.
Rodriguez, who spent his freshman year at Muhlenberg, scored a school-record 50 points against Daniel Boone and 35 points against Harrisburg and Berks Catholic.
He reached 1,000 in his career in a non-league game against Vertical Academy at Santander Arena. Then he topped 1,000 points in his two years at Reading by scoring 21 in the season-ending loss to Archbishop Wood in the second round of the PIAA Tournament.
He has 1,291 in his career, including 1,003 with the Red Knights.
Rodriguez is coming off his strong performance last weekend at The Hoop Group’s Pitt Jam Fest, where he led Team Final Red to a tournament title. Reading High teammates Myles Gray and Aries Rodriguez are also on the team.
“I had a great weekend,” said Ruben Rodriguez. “It was really just a team effort. We played the best basketball that we’ve played so far. We did really well. ”
Many college coaches attended the tournament. Rodriguez has drawn interest from such mid-major programs as Army, Drexel, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris and Towson. No school has offered him a scholarship, but Drexel and Towson have invited him to make campus visits.
“I feel like I’m playing really good,” he said. “My athleticism has gotten better. I feel stronger. I look stronger. When I’m playing defense, people are bouncing off me.
“I’m trying to perfect my shot and use AAU to work on my skills and still be effective. So when school season begins, I have those moves down pat and I know what I’m doing. “
This weekend, Rodriguez hopes he, his father and stepmother can visit his great-grandfather and several uncles while he will get a chance to raise his basketball profile.
“I hope I make the team because it can open a lot of doors for me,” he said. “Overseas basketball isn’t the same as the basketball that we play here. My goal is to play professionally, whether it’s overseas or, I hope to God, I make it to the NBA. “