LAS VEGAS - Since both the Compton Magic and Oakland Soldiers were playing elimination games at the same time today, about a 30-minute drive from each other, I figured I'd choose to watch the team most likely to lose since they probably wouldn't be around any longer.

I picked incorrectly.

While I watched Gabe York and the Magic blow out the Emerald City Pioneers in what was supposed to be a close game, the Oakland Soldiers suffered what might have been the biggest upset of the weekend, if not the entire month of July, at Bishop Gorman High School.

Loaded with NBA prospects, the Soldiers lost to the unheralded Branch West Elite team of Orange County, and did so by double digits.

Then again, maybe it wasn't a complete surprise. Travel-team ball requires constant travel and sometimes more than one game a day, and the Soldiers hardly had motivation on their side, playing a team they were expected to easily beat.

Since I wasn't there, I figured I'd call Soldiers coach Derrick Artis to ask what happened. Fortunately, he picked up the phone.

"We weren't playing their best," Artis said. "But you've got to give them credit. They doubled down on the post and played well."

Still, Artis said the Soldiers probably took Branch West too lightly and haven't been playing in top form all weekend following a strong finish at the Peach Jam earlier this month.

So while I'll get to see more of York and UA target Jordan Bell (who recently left the California Supreme to join the Magic), unfortunately I'll be out of a chance to watch Ashley and Co. again this summer.


The most ironic fact from the Adidas Super 64 media guide might be the Denver street address listed for Thomas, one of UA's top 2013 targets.

It's called Tucson Way.

"Must be destiny," said Thomas' grandfather, Mark Dowdell, chuckling.

However, Thomas has yet to choose a college home. He visited UA unofficially in March when the Wildcats clinched the Pac-10 title against Oregon, saying he enjoyed the game day atmosphere. But he said today he still has Arizona, Tennessee, Xavier, Louisville, Missouri and Kentucky among the schools he is considering.

Besides, he was busy enough this summer just picking another high school. Thomas attended Phoenix's Westwind Prep last season and now says he'll play next season at South Kent of Connecticut, the same school Kevin Parrom played for.


Like the Soldiers, though, Thomas was sent home early today. His Colorado Hawks were edged by Nebraska Bison Red in the first round of championship play in the Adidas 64.

"They were shooting really good and we couldn't stop them," Thomas said.


Fresno's Robert Upshaw has has some impressive games for Dream Vision, which advanced to the second round today with an easy win over the Detroit Fire. He's a 6-11 big man with good hands, good shooting and decent mobility for his size.

He's also confident and well-spoken, saying he's driven to get a better SAT score even though he's already recorded a qualifying mark.

Upshaw has yet to visit UA but has been in contact with Sean Miller and James Whitford.

"I've really enjoyed my conversations with coach Miller and coach Whitford," Upshaw said. "We have a nice relationship and I feel like Arizona is up there with everybody."


Sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star covering Arizona Wildcats basketball