Jimmy Soto, Judge Memorial High School's all-state point guard, has committed to sign a national letter-of-intent Wednesday to attend the University of Utah.

Soto, a 5-foot-9 senior who averaged 28.7 points, seven rebounds and six assists a game for the Region 6 champion and 3A runner-up Bulldogs, opted for Utah over Gonzaga after the latter had spent a lot of time, attention and effort with Soto during the past year, said Judge Coach Jim Yerkovich.However, Soto's commitment is only verbal until he actually signs.

Others who showed considerable interest in the past year or so included Utah State, Virgina, Clemson, Oregon State and several Gonzaga counterparts in the West Coast Athletic Conference.

Until recent weeks, Soto was said to be leaning strongly toward Gonzaga, after being impressed with the athletic administration and the point guard-oriented basketball program there. Plus, Soto developed a friendship with Gonzaga alum and Jazz all-star guard John Stockton.

"Gonzaga identifies with the best point guard in the world," said Yerkovich, acknowledging Stockton's relationship with Soto.

However, a strong showing in the 3A state tournament was followed by MVP honors in last month's Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Maryland, which brought increased the attention and respect Soto received on the East Coast, said Yerkovich.

In the subsequent weeks, Soto and Utah became more mutually interested in each other - the Utes admitting deficiencies in the back court last season and Soto coupling a desire to play closer at home with wanting to be part of the program's push for in-state talent.