CEDAR FALLS — In recent weeks, Northern Iowa began seeing a significant rise in competition as it made its final push to land Maple Grove, Minn., prospect Tywhon Pickford.

Luckily for the Panthers, Pickford’s mind had seemingly been made up long before things started to intensify.

The 6-foot-4, 205 pound shooting guard took to Twitter Tuesday to announce he would join UNI’s 2017-18 recruiting class. He comes to Cedar Falls following a stellar senior season at Maple Grove High School, where he averaged 20.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks.

Having already formed a strong connection to the coaching staff during his recruitment, Pickford says a campus visit helped seal the deal.

“It felt like home as soon as I got there,” he said. “The coaches believe in me and they trust me and it just felt like a place I needed to be.”

Pickford saw his stature rise in recent weeks, as power conference schools like Nebraska, Colorado and Clemson were all reportedly interest in him.

And after playing in the Boo Williams Boys’ Basketball Showcase in Hampton, Va. last weekend, Pickford says he spoke with an assistant from Michigan State, who wanted to see him play again.

But by that point, he was ready to bring his recruitment to close. Weeks ago, he tweeted that he wished to have a decision made by April 25 and was able to meet his self-appointed deadline.

Once Pickford signs his national letter of intent, UNI will have reached its scholarship limit of 13. He becomes the second addition to the 2017 class, joining Waverly-Shell Rock product Austin Phyfe.

Though they’ll be plenty of competition in a crowded backcourt, Pickford could help fill a void left following the graduation of guards Jeremy Morgan and Jordan Ashton.

And if he hopes to see significant playing time right away, Pickford knows he can’t be lax in his preparation.

“I know I’ve got to come in and be ready to work,” he said. “It’s a whole new level of competition and I’ve got to be ready for it.”

VALLEY VISITING POTENTIAL MEMBERS: The MVC is ramping up its efforts to find a replacement for recently departed Wichita State.

Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal Star reports that conference officials made a Monday visit to Murray State, then headed north to Valparaiso Tuesday. Reynolds also reports that the league has scheduled to visit Milwaukee and Omaha.

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