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Wise makes ’em pay

BASKETBALL: UCI freshman center, who field taunts from foes about his body, fashions impressive body of work.

January 30, 2009|By Barry Faulkner

Wise, who averaged 20.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and shot 61% from the field to help King High in Riverside win the Division I-A section crown as a senior center, said some of the skills he honed to be more effective on the perimeter, have helped him bring more to the paint.

He also said his daily off-season workout regimen helped him trim 10 pounds and gain some strength and quickness.

“I was excited [about the expected shift from the post to the perimeter, a move he believes he will need to make should he achieve his dream of playing professionally],” Wise said. “But I’ve been playing the post my whole life, so moving back was pretty easy.”

Wise said he learned most of his inside expertise from his father, Francois Wise, the Long Beach State career leader in rebounds (896), who earned All-American honors as a 49ers senior in 1980. The same year, he was selected in the fourth round of the NBA draft by the Washington Bullets.

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“My dad taught me almost everything,” Eric Wise said of Francois, who was 6-6, 240 pounds at Long Beach State. After failing to survive the final cut as a rookie NBA hopeful, the elder Wise became a star in the Philippines. Francois Wise said he averaged 45 points and once scored 78 in a professional game there, before eventually retiring in 1987.

He has spent the last 19 years on patrol for the Los Angeles Police Department.

“We built a court in our backyard and we used to go out there and bang a little bit,” Eric Wise said. “Not so much anymore. But I talk to my dad after every game. And I always know where he and my mom [Bonita] are in the stands at every game.”

Eric Wise’s uncle, Francois’ older brother, is Willie Wise, who was a three-time All-Star in the old American Basketball Assn. After the ABA merged with the NBA, Willie Wise, who helped lead the Utah Stars to the ABA title in 1970-71, played the 1976-77 season with the Denver Nuggets. He spent part of the following season with the Seattle SuperSonics.

Jaha Wilson, one of Eric’s cousins, played at USC and one of Eric’s two older brothers, Cameron Wise, plays at Waldorf College, an NAIA school in Forest City, Iowa.

Bonita Wise, Eric’s older sister, starred in women’s volleyball at the University of Cincinnati, and is currently playing professionally in Spain.

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