Rodriguez was out of action for about five weeks after he suffered a shoulder injury in a pickup game.
As preseason practiced opened, Rodriguez was on the sideline with an uncertain prognosis. Season-ending surgery was reportedly a possibility.
Instead, the 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward was back on the court and nobody was happier than ETSU coach Steve Forbes, who said Rodriguez ranked second when he went through his roster.
“It’s great to have Jeromy out there,” Forbes said. “We’re hoping for the best. We’ll take it slow and see what happens.”
Rodriguez, a junior from the Dominican Republic, was the Panhandle Conference’s player of the year last season while playing for Northwest Florida State College. He averaged 14.7 points and 9.7 rebounds a game while shooting 60 percent from the field.
“I knew when we signed him, he would be an impact player,” Forbes said. “He just does so many things.
“The most pleasant thing to me is what a great teammate he’s been not being able to practice. He’s always encouraging, always listening.”
Forbes will be happy to see a player who averaged nearly double digits in rebounding last season on the court, considering he hasn’t been thrilled with his team’s work on the board so far during the preseason.
“I think we’ve really progressed since our first practice,” Forbes said. “We’re not a really good rebounding team right now. I’ve been hard on them about that. We don’t have any excuses. We’re athletic and we have size. We just have to do a better job of rebounding the ball.”
Fans will get their first chance to see the latest edition of the team on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when the Bucs hold an open scrimmage at Brooks Gym.