Alejo Rodriguez is a 26 year old 203cm forward from the Bronx, New York that will play for Horsholm 79ers (Denmark-Ligaen) this season. He played at Iona(NCAA) from 2006-2011 playing a total of 119 NCAA games. In his senior year he played 36 games: 6.6ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.0apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 69.9%, FT: 53.8%. He started his professional basketball career in 2011 with the Springfield Armor (D-League): 7 games: 0.7ppg, 2.6rpg, left in Jan.’12, then joined Oviedo Club Baloncesto (Spain-LEB Silver): 5 games: 3.2ppg, 5.6rpg. In the 2012-2013 season he moved to the Dragons Rhoendorf (Germany-ProB, starting five): 18 games: 12.0ppg, Reb-3(11.0rpg), 2.1apg, 1.1spg, 1.4bpg, FGP-2(72.1%), FT: 38.5%. Last season he played for the Canton Charge (D-League) and Springfield Armor (D-League): 7 games: 2.6ppg, 7.6rpg. Recently he played for Huracanes del Atlantico (Dominican Rep.-LNB): 15 games: 10.5ppg, Reb-5(8.4rpg), 1.7spg, Blocks-3(1.6bpg). He spoke to German Hoops about his basketball career and new Fraport Skyliner Sean Armand who was his teammate at Iona.
Alejo thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
Anytime Miles, I’m currently in Denmark. My summer was great, spent part of it in Dominican Republic playing in the LNB with Puerto Plata Huracanes, where I was named Rookie of the Year. The rest of the summer I spent working out and spending as much time as possible with my family and friends.
It took you a while to get signed, but you did by Horsholm 79ers (Denmark-Ligaen). How was the whole experience this summer for you? Did you have less offers than usual or just offers that didn´t suit you?
I came off a great season playing in Dominican Republic so I wasn’t too worried. I actually turned down a couple offers waiting for the right one to come along that would benefit me as a player and my experience would benefit the team I ended up signing with. I know I can play and things would work out, just had to stay ready. Horsholm 79ers just happened to be the right fit for me this season. The guys on the team are really cool and the coaches have been great too. The people around the team are so helpful with making sure I’m comfortable and well adjusted. Couldn’t have asked for a better situation.
With what kind of expectations are you going to Denmark with? What kind of role are you predicting to have?
I’m coming in with high expectations. I’ve worked extremely hard this off season and I know it will pay off throughout the upcoming season. I want to win and with the pieces we have we should be a contender. As far as myself personally, my role is to be a dominant inside presence on the court both defensively and offensively; own the boards and do whatever else I can do to help us win games.
After playing in Europe in Spain and Germany, you returned back to the States last season and played for the Springfield Armor (D-League) playing 7 games. What kind of experience was this whole D-league for you? Had you been hoping for more in general to get out of the D-League?
The D-League was a great experience, but a challenging one as well. I joined the team late in the season so that was a bit of a struggle learning everything on the fly, but I’m grateful for the opportunity and for the great coaches that helped me out a lot in a short span of time. Being older this time around, I’ve taken all the experiences from each team I’ve played with and have applied it to my game. In doing so, I’ve definitely seen the growth in my game over the years.
Two seasons ago you played for the Dragons Rhoendorf (Germany-ProB) playing 18 games and averaging 12.0ppg, Reb-3(11.0rpg), 2.1apg, 1.1spg, 1.4bpg, FGP-2(72.1%). Would you like to play in Germany again in the future?
I would love to play in Germany again. I had an amazing experience with the Dragons. They have some of the most amazing fans and people surrounding the club that I’ve been associated with during my career. I’m very much in touch with a lot of them still. That was a great group of guys and I was lucky enough to be a part of the team. I wish the Dragons a very successful season.
You definitely would have deserved a shot at the Pro A level. I remember watching you play with Rhondorf in Frankfurt. You fouled out in the third quarter in Frankfurt and Frankfurt went on to win the game. What is always the most difficult thing for you when playing in foul trouble? Do you think more when your defending your man or going hard to get a rebound?
Well, thank you, things happen for a reason, right? At this point I know I can play first league and be effective. But I still remember that game, so mad we lost; I hate losing. The most difficult part of playing with foul trouble is that you can’t be too aggressive or take too many chances on either side of the ball, which hurts your team. It’s definitely hard sitting out a good portion of the game waiting to go back in during crucial moments. It sucks not being able to help your team out and give your all like they are. Defensively it’s all about reads for me, knowing my opponent and their tendencies. I do my homework before the game even starts, but I guess I think more when defending my man because rebounding comes naturally to me. It’s what allowed me to make my freshman high school team at Mount St Michael’s Academy, so I’ve always been looked at as a good rebounder.
You are a very hard working big man that knows how to get rebounds. What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away?
I pride myself in working hard. Everyday won’t be your day, especially on the court, but one thing you can always do is work hard so that’s what I aim to do every time I step foot on that hardwood. I don’t want anyone to say, someone else worked harder than me or out-hustled me. A lot of things I do, don’t always end up on the stat sheet. I make winning plays and I’m a leader. I’m a total team player willing to do anything for my team to win. If that means sacrificing my scoring, minutes, or being a mentor to younger players; whatever the case may be, I’ll do it for the greater good of the team.
When you were a senior, new Fraport Skyliner Sean Armand was a freshman at Iona. What was your first impression of him when you saw him on the court?
It seems like ages ago, back then Sean had cornrows, but my first impression of Sean was this boy can SHOOT! As he came into his own, you realized he just didn’t want to be good player; he wanted to be a great player.
Armand improved his scoring average each season at Iona and shot over 40% from downtown all four years. After your last season did you know that Armand had the game to get to where he has gotten?
I knew he had the work ethic to get there. It felt good watching someone you know grow like that and display their skill set day in and day out. He really did accomplish so much and I’m proud of him.
What was the most amazing thing that you remember him doing in a game or practice with the basketball?
I think he hit like seven 3’s or something in a game; he did that a couple times if I remember correctly. I could count on an assist or two from him a night! He could really shoot back then and is a better shooter now.
In Frankfurt, Armand is replacing ex NBA player Andrew Rautins and will be needed to score on a consistent level. Do you see him overcoming the pressure and making an impact right away as a rookie?
I have no doubt he will be able to overcome the pressure and become an impact player for Frankfurt. Sean is driven and he will do great things this season. A great sign for the Skyliners. It can be hard getting used to the way the game is played here in Europe, because it’s a lot different than the states, but I have no doubt once he gets some games under him, he will be in the talks for Rookie of the Year all season.
I see Armand as being the X-factor. Do you think that this is arole he can take on?
I believe so and I feel he can handle that role. That’s what he kind of was for us at Iona his freshman year, he would come in to give us a spark with timely 3 point buckets. He can now do that in various ways, because he has developed all aspects of his game.
Where will the journey of the New York Knicks end this season?
That’s tricky, the Knicks never do as expected. I’m going to be optimistic and say they make it out of the 1st round of the playoffs. Since ’98, my team has been the San Antonio Spurs; for them it’s championship or bust. I’m going to go out on a limb, but I’m confident in my team, I say Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers … Spurs in 7!!!
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
The last DVD movie I saw was “Heat”.
Thanks Alejo for the chat