From the day that Dominic Artis (Richmond, Calif./Findlay Prep) decommitted from UCLA, the Oregon Ducks were strong and here’s why. The Ducks needed a point man in this class or run the risk of having to go small with Jonathan Lloyd while mixing in some combos to spell him. Not landing Artis could have meant another juco spring experiment. Scoring Artis stabilized the situation for coach Dana Altman and that’s always a good thing.
Artis was the starting point guard for the Oakland Soldiers, one of the highest profile and most powerful travel teams in the country. The Soldiers sent three kids to the Pac-12 in the current senior class. Two of the three -- Artis and Brandon Ashley --- selected programs that already had Soldiers on the roster. Arizona, Ashley’s selection, landed two Soldier alums in 2011; Oregon scored Jabari Brown in the same year. Richard Longrus (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O’Dowd) picked Washington State, which doesn’t have a Soldier on the roster. My point is simple: the highest-profile Soldiers are clustering to schools that have been nabbing players from the program. Arizona for sure, and certainly now Oregon, have tapped into the Soldiers pipeline. The question we should be asking is will the trend continue?
The best juniors from the Soldiers are forward Aaron Gordon (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) and wing guard Jabari Bird (Richmond, Calif./Salesian). Gordon is the brother of Drew Gordon, who started out at UCLA before transferring. The Bruins aren’t expected to be a player for Gordon but Arizona is on his early list. Bird has UCLA on his list in addition to Oregon and a ton of Pac-12 programs. The Bruins don’t have a single Soldier on their roster; Artis would have been the first. For the past two seasons, the elite Soldiers have teamed in college with former Soldiers. We’ll see if this trend holds up in 2013.