Headed To The Big 12

Justin Safford is going to play high-major basketball. On Monday, Safford found a home in the Big 12.

Mike Anderson came into North Carolina and landed a player. The first-year Missouri head coach watched Justin Safford a few weeks ago at a prep event and the Tigers locked him down.

Safford, a 6-foot-8 power forward who hails from Bloomington, Ill., and attends school at Charis Prep, committed to the Tigers on Monday. Safford got familiar with Missouri over the holiday break.

"He went there a few times over Christmas break and took in some practices and games … all unofficially," Charis Prep coach Carlos Peralta said. "He's convinced he knows what the place is about and he knows that's the place he wants to go."

Winthrop, Xavier, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and a host of others were in the mix. Wake Forest had been his top choice but the Deacons did not offer a scholarship.

"He told me this morning and I've been getting phone calls and making calls," Peralta said. "He said he thought about it and decided that Missouri was where he wanted to go."

Safford entered Charis Prep as a potential mid-major player but took his game up a notch this season.

"I'll tell you the biggest change is hard to pinpoint but No. 1 is knowing when to use what. He came with a nice skill package that needed to be refining but he understood. The biggest improvement was recognizing the situation and knowing when to use what skill.

"The second improvement was definitely in toughness and playing hard. He's gotten tougher and he's learned to compete harder. The other thing would be getting better at some different skills. He's just a good kid who wants."

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