The St. John's Red Storm men’s basketball program has received a commitment from highly-touted transfer Mustapha Heron, who comes to Queens after two seasons at Auburn.
The 2018 Second Team All-SEC selection must complete one full academic year of residency before competing for the Red Storm per NCAA requirements, but he is expected to apply for a hardship waiver in order to gain immediate eligibility.
“Mustapha is a high level basketball talent who we are thrilled to have join our program,” said St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin. “He comes with tremendous experience and has a history of success against top level competition, so we look forward to the impact he can make on our basketball program. Mustapha has all the tools to flourish within our system. He’s a natural scorer with good size for his position and remarkable athleticism.”
The Waterbury, Conn., native received Second Team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press as a sophomore after averaging 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.9 assists per game in 32 appearances, all of which were starts, for the Tigers.
Just the fifth player in Auburn history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau in his first two seasons, Heron finished sixth in the SEC in scoring thanks to eight 20-plus point scoring performances and 29 outings in double figures. Heron, who poured in a career-high 31 points against Winthrop on Nov. 24, led the Tigers to their third SEC Regular Season Championship in program history.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to play for such a storied program,” said Heron. “I’m also fortunate for the chance to be close to home, to my mom and family. This has been a stressful last year, so I’m extremely blessed for the chance to play on the big stage in New York City and for Coach Mullin.”
In the fourth-seeded Tigers’ NCAA Tournament opener against College of Charleston, Heron scored a game-high 16 points to lead Auburn to a 62-58 victory. Heron also led the Tigers with 12 points in their second round defeat at the hands of Clemson.
Heron impressed during his rookie campaign with the Tigers, earning a spot on the Freshman All-SEC team after averaging 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per outing. He played in 32 games, all of which were starts, during his debut collegiate campaign.
The former consensus five-star prospect, Heron was ranked as high as 17th nationally by recruiting services coming out of Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury, Conn. A three-time all-state selection who led Sacred Heart to three-straight state titles and a 54-game winning streak, Heron averaged 30 points and eight rebounds per game as a senior in 2015-16.
Heron was also a standout on the AAU circuit, playing with New York RENS prior to enrolling at Auburn.
This news comes less than a week after guard Shamorie Ponds, a First Team All-Big East selection, announced he would be returning to St. John's for his junior year after testing the NBA Draft waters.
Ponds is part of a core group of veterans for 2018-19 that also includes Marvin Clark II and Justin Simon, who came to St. John's as transfers last season and put up big numbers.
Heron is the latest addition to what is a cast of talented newcomers at St. John’s that also includes incoming freshmen Greg Williams Jr., Josh Roberts and Marcellus Earlington, as well as transfers David Caraher, LJ Figueroa and Eli Wright.