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Wise to leave 'Eaters

Men's Basketball

Junior forward-center, who starred for three seasons, said he will play 2012-13 season at another Division I school.

April 15, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

UC Irvine junior men's basketball star Eric Wise, who was four points and 62 rebounds away from cracking the school's top 10 career lists in those categories, said Friday he is transferring to another Division I school where he will finish his collegiate career during the 2012-13 season.

"I thought it was just time to move on, pretty much," Wise said by phone. "I don't want to make it seem like Irvine was a bad place. I guess I thought [transferring] will be best for me playing basketball after [college]."

Wise said he considered the NBA a long shot, but would like to play professionally overseas after completing his college eligibility. He said he plans to transfer to a Division I school and sit out next season. He said he has no idea what school that might be.

UCI Coach Russell Turner, who successfully convinced the 6-foot-6, 240-pound forward-center not to transfer after last season, when Turner replaced 13-year coach Pat Douglass, said Wise told him he was thinking about transferring on April 8.

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Turner said he talked with Wise and his father, former Long Beach State All-American Francois Wise, at least two times during the last week.

"I was definitely surprised that he wanted to leave," Turner said of Eric Wise, who averaged 16.3 points and a team-best 8.1 rebounds last season, when a string of leg injuries forced him to miss 12 games and play only sparingly in one other of the team's 32 games. "I told him I'd like for him to stay, but I wanted him to be happy.

"We have no choice but to move on," Turner said Friday when reached by phone. "We're going to miss things that Eric brought to us on the court. Sometimes, when a guy makes a decision to transfer, it's hard to understand. That's how I feel about [Wise's] decision."

Turner said Wise has been granted permission to talk with prospective schools. The full release is typically granted when student-athletes complete academic course work at the schools from which they are leaving, to ensure the current school is not penalized under academic standards for scholarship student-athletes.

Wise said he plans to complete the spring quarter at UCI and he does not have a timetable for making a decision on where he will play next.

Wise started 62 of the 63 games in which he played his first two seasons at UCI, both seasons earning second-team All-Big West Conference recognition.

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