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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wise UA’s ace in the hole

    Arizona guard Nic Wise drives to the hoop against Houston forward Qarraan Calhoun during a 96-90 UA overtime win Saturday in McKale Center. Wise averages 35.8 minutes per game, which is the fourth most in the Pacific 10 Conference.
    Arizona guard Nic Wise drives to the hoop against Houston forward Qa’rraan Calhoun during a 96-90 UA overtime win Saturday in McKale Center. Wise averages 35.8 minutes per game, which is the fourth most in the Pacific 10 Conference.

    For the past seven years Nic Wise has been somewhat of a poker player. Patience, careful decision making and developed skill has given him a huge stack of minutes with a payout of being an important player he might not have seen himself as in high school.

    The point guard didn’t play much during his freshman year of high school in Houston, Texas, but a verbal commitment to play for the UA kept him going. By his senior year at Kingwood Highÿ- playing for his fourth coach in as many years -ÿhe was averaging 21 points and six assists per game.

    Then he came to the UA and was no longer big stacks.

    “”My freshman year I didn’t really play,”” said Wise, who averaged eight minutes and 1.9 points per game during the 2006-07 season while playing behind senior Mustafa Shakur. “” I guess you could say I had to wait my turn (behind) Staf.””

    The waiting paid off for the littlest guy with the biggest hustle.

    Wise averaged nearly 30 minutes and 9.2 points per game, trading time with Jerryd Bayless in his sophomore campaign, but he considered a transfer in the summer.

    Then the cards fell in line.

    Brandon Jennings’ announced Eurotrip meant Wise would become Arizona’s only true point guard. With the ante raised significantly, his team needed him more now than ever.

    “”(Last year) helped a lot,”” Wise said. “”I think it gave me momentum into this year. It was pretty much the same my freshman year of high school. I didn’t start a lot my freshman year.

    “”My sophomore year I went to my dad’s high school, played the whole game, averaged 17 points,”” he added. “”You pretty much grow and grow, and you gradually learn how to play the game at that level.””

    Wise is now playing a hefty 35.8 minutes per game – fourth most in the Pacific 10 Conference, and just one minute less than conference-leading teammate, Chase Budinger.

    With a surgically repaired knee, the guard wears tights on his legs to keep the blood flowing, but the wear and tear is always in the back of interim head coach Russ Pennell’s mind.

    “”The thing, to this point, that I’ve been most happy with has been his conditioning,”” Pennell said. “”He’s really held up well.””

    Wise gave credit to the UA coaching staff for his physically stable condition, saying they don’t work the team too hard in practice so they’ll be fresh for games.

    Mental preparation helped, too.

    “”I was pretty much told when Brandon wasn’t coming back that I would be playing pretty much 40 minutes a game,”” Wise said, “”so I just made sure I took care of my knee and made sure I stayed healthy.””

    Wise’s roommate, forward Jordan Hill, was in the same situation as a freshman. He averaged just 14 minutes and 4.7 points per game. He knows a little bit about the waiting game, too.

    “”When me, Nic and Chase (Budinger) came in, Me and Nic weren’t getting (any) minutes,”” Hill said. “”Chase was the All-American so he got to play, but we just stayed ready. We knew they were gonna call our numbers one day, and once we got the chance, we took advantage of it.””

    Wise currently averages 13.2 points per game (16th best in the conference), to go with 4.6 assists (sixth), and he’s topped his career high in points twice this season -ÿit is now 23.

    Though his production has only increased since his freshman year with the Wildcats, he knows he will have his off nights, but he never loses his poker face.

    “”You’ve got to keep fighting through it,”” Wise said.

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