Christian Wise had never been asked for an autograph until Friday.
Following Friday’s Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament rally, he was the most popular man in the Butte County city of 7,500.
The Riordan senior forward stole the show at the rally, an annual event that coincides with the tournament, both for his slam dunks and his dance moves.
Wise dunked three times during the Crusaders' lopsided win over the host Bulldogs on Thursday night, then went on to win the dunk contest at Friday’s rally, edging Branson’s George Gale in a tiebreaker round after the two each earned 28 out of a possible 30 points.
As much as the crowd enjoyed his reverse dunks and one-handed hammers, including one attempt where he stuck his entire forearm into the rim, his dancing during the lip sync battle were what truly put him in the spotlight.
Wise, who transferred from Heritage before his junior year and commutes to Riordan from Brentwood, chose the team’s song for the performance, New Edition’s 1988 hit “Can You Stand the Rain.” He started the number in a tanktop, which he ripped off before teammate Achilles Woodson poured water on him.
The shirtless performance technically disqualified Riordan from winning the competition, but it endeared him to the Gridley student body. Officially, Salesian won the lip sync contest after dancing to Keyshia Cole’s “Love,” but Wise had dozens of students asking for photos and for his signature on any possible object, though T-shirts, phone cases and tournament programs were the most common pieces of merchandise handed to him.
The rally was preceded by a breakfast, with Steve Coccimiglio as the guest speaker. Coccimiglio served as the head coach at Diablo Valley College for 30 years.
King-Njhsanni Wilhite represented Riordan in the 3-point contest, the first of the rally’s three events. He finished in second place to Salesian’s Eric Watson.