The University of Arizona men’s basketball program has earned a reputation as “Point Guard U” over the years thanks to the talent and hard work of players at that critical position who have helped elevate the program to the ranks of the national elite.
Players like Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Gardner and Mike Bibby all come to mind when thinking of that moniker. Former Wildcat Nic Wise is one of the more recent additions to that legacy.
As a Wildcat, Wise started taking a big role on the team his sophomore year. He averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 assists per game that season, sharing point guard duties with Jerryd Bayless.
As a junior, Wise took on point guard responsibilities alone after Bayless’ early entry into the NBA Draft. He had his best statistical season that year, as well, putting up 15.7 points, 4.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He was also lethal from long distance, shooting 41.5 percent from three-point territory.
Statistically, this was his best year as well. Wise teamed with Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill to lead Arizona to the Sweet 16 of that year’s NCAA Tournament.
Following the departures of both Budinger and Hill to the NBA, Wise averaged 14.4 points and 3.3 assists per game as a senior in 2009-10, Sean Miller’s first season in Tucson. He proved to have a flair for the dramatic that year, capping two games with buzzer-beating shots for UA wins.
Upon graduation, Wise headed overseas to begin his pro career, averaging 13.4 points per game with the German team Telecom Baskets in 2010-11. He moved on to France the following season and had a strong year, posting averages of 15.1 points and 5.6 assists for Le Havre.
Wise played for two teams in 2012-13, starting the year in Italy with JuveCaserta before finishing with Rosa Radom in Poland. His time in Poland proved to be worthwhile, as Wise notched career highs of 17.3 points and 7.3 assists per contest.
Heading into the summer of 2013 looking for a contract, Wise decided to be selective and weigh a few different options before finally deciding to sign with Akhisar Belediye in the Turkish league.
“I decided to play in Turkey because they showed the most commitment to me,” Wise said. “The coach personally called me a few times and told me he really wanted me to the point guard of his team.”
Every player that makes the transition from the American game to the European game has to adapt quickly, and that was no different for Wise. However, the toughest part for him was the change of the culture from the United States to countries in Europe.
“It’s a lot different,” Wise said. “In the states, the game is more up-tempo and here the players use their smarts more. The lifestyle and culture was the hardest part to adapt to, because every country does things differently. The first month in a new country is always the hardest.”
Wise has been making the most of his overseas playing experience while never losing sight of his ultimate goal of taking the floor in the NBA.
“Playing in Europe has been a good experience for me,” Wise said. “It’s a great experience to play in different countries and experience all kinds of different environments, but it is still my dream to make it in the NBA.”
Even though he no longer attends the University of Arizona, Wise knows he’ll always be a Wildcat. He makes sure to keep up-to-date with the UA program, and always tries to make himself available for his fellow Wildcats despite the differences in location and time.
“I still follow them all the time,” Wise said. “They have a lot of good players, and guys like Nick Johnson and Solomon Hill contact me on a regular basis by Twitter or other social media. They all look up to me in a way and I’ve been through what they’re going through.”Wise will soon make his way to Turkey to begin training camp with his new team and take another step on a path that will hopefully lead him back to the U.S. and the realization of his dream to play in the NBA.