Why Did Griffey Choose Illinois over Mizzou?

It was a surprise earlier this week when coveted in-state big man Tyler Griffey committed to Illinois. Griffey was one of the top prospects on Missouri's board and it was thought the Tigers would go down to the wire in his recruitment. The result, of course, was rampant speculation about why MU lost out on Griffey –- and lost early. InsideMizzou.com went straight to the source to get the scoop…

We talked to Griffey's father, Chris Griffey, who has played an integral part in guiding the 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward – ranked No. 51 overall in the Class of 2009 – through the recruiting process. As expected, Griffey confirmed that Missouri ended up second for his son's commitment.

"They were the runner-up. It came down to the two. Tyler has a lot of friends going to Mizzou so he really thought about [joining them]. The coaches did a great job of recruiting him. They were fantastic. We couldn't ask for anything more. They're just great, great coaches," said Griffey, adding that MU coach Mike Anderson was upbeat when receiving the news Wednesday night.

One of the primary things we asked him had to do with the timing of his son's decision; had the most recent offcourt drama in Columbia played a role in the choice?

"No, I can honestly say it didn't," he said. "I asked him about that. Honestly, it wasn't. That can happen anywhere – at KU, at MU, at Illinois.. You get a bunch of 17, 18, 19, 20-year-old kids who have never had the luxuries or the freedoms that they have, and sometimes they're going to make bad decisions."
vWhat did play a role, though, was the difference between the two systems – MU's frenetic full-court attack and Illinois' more deliberate, set-up approach. Tyler felt it would take more time for him to adjust to MU's system, though he thought he would be able to thrive in time. And his high school team recently began going to more offensive sets, leading to a turnaround for both Tyler and his team.

He said his son's decision was a tough one, and that he had Tyler wait a few days to think it over after he'd told his parents and coaches about it on Monday. Once Wednesday arrived and he hadn't budged, they made the calls. Missouri did a great job, he said, but in the end Tyler felt most comfortable with Illini coach Bruce Weber and his program.

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