TALLAHASSEE (NCAA Women/FIBA 3x3) - The evidence continues to pour in.
The FIBA 3x3 game is helping basketball players improve.
That is certainly the case for Leonor Rodriguez, who competed for 10th place Spain at the FIBA 3x3 World Championship in Athens last summer and has returned to American college basketball a different player.
She has helped turn Florida State University (FSU) into one of the surprise packages in the NCAA Women.
After three mediocre seasons in Tallahassee, the Canary Islands native was averaging 16.2 points and shooting 51.5% from the floor heading into the Seminoles’ game against Virginia Tech at the weekend.
“She’s exceeded all of my expectations,” said FSU coach Sue Semrau.
“We noticed it early on in practice. She was one of those kids that you just felt like she was doing everything right. Earning it. Earning it. Day after day. And then you put her in there and bam, all of a sudden.”
Rodriguez, 21, says her confidence grew when playing alongside Spain internationals Laura Nicholls, Christina Ouvina and rising star Amaya Gastaminza at the FIBA 3x3 World Championship in Greece.
The experience helped her sharpen her focus ahead of her last season at FSU.
“I just knew I needed to work harder,” Rodriguez said to the Tallahassee Democrat.
“And I think I just came in with a new mentality. It’s my senior year. It’s now or never. I just wanted to give it my all.”
Rodriguez has played for Spain’s under-16, under-18, under-19 and under-20 teams and won numerous medals.
One of her finest hours came on 12 July, 2009, in Södertälje, Sweden, when the Spaniards defeated France, 64-54, in the gold-medal game at the U18 European Championship.
Rodriguez made nine of 16 shots from the floor and scored a game-high 22 points.
She was then named to the all-tournament team.
The following year in Bangkok at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, Rodriguez averaged 11.6 points per game as the Spaniards reached the Final before falling to the United States.
In her last event with the national team, the 2011 U20 European Championship for Women, Rodriguez again played big minutes and helped Spain win the gold medal.
Now she’s playing better than ever and is certain to feature for Spain’s senior team in the future.