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Mustapha Heron cleared to play for St. John’s in 2018

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More impact for Chris Mullin’s fourth year, as the Auburn transfer gets his waiver to play right away.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After being initially recruited to the Johnnies but opting for Auburn, after wanting to be closer to his sick mother from afar, after declaring for the draft and then deciding on at least another year of college, after waiting a whole summer after a transfer to St. John’s...

Mustapha Heron will suit up for St. John’s in the 2018-2019 season, per a release from St. John’s.

You read it correctly.

“I’m incredibly thankful that the NCAA has decided to allow me to play right away closer to home,” said Heron, a native of Waterbury, Conn. “I would like to thank all of the staff at St. John’s that fought to make this a possibility for me and my family.”

“It is important for Mustapha to be close to his family during this difficult time, so providing him the opportunity to play immediately will be a great benefit as he continues to pursue his personal goals,” said Chris Mullin. “Mustapha is a high-character young man with loads of talent who will now be able to showcase it on the highest stage.”

Impact assessment

Chris Mullin’s Red Storm will now field three new impact transfers — Heron, Sedee Keita and Mikey Dixon — and five in total when considering Justin Simon and Marvin Clark II.

The 6’5”, 218 pound swingman will be expected to start and to elevate the Red Storm offense immediately, playing next to Shamorie Ponds. Heron, who averaged 16 points and five rebounds per game, helped pull a short-handed Auburn team into the NCAA Tournament’s second round as a four seed.

Expect some pundits to elevate this year’s expectations for the Johnnies. Heron provides more firepower, but so does Mikey Dixon and L.J. Figueroa. Heron’s eligibility to play means that Greg Williams won’t necessarily have to log too much time, and can concentrate on what he does well.

It also means that Ponds can get more rest, that Bryan Trimble Jr. is likely to get some really good looks, and that the Red Storm can throw offensive waves at any mid-game scoring lulls.

This season, the high-usage slashing guard will bring his aggressive foul-drawing style to Queens. Heron used 26% of his team’s possessions last season (highest on Auburn); Ponds used 32% of possessions while on the floor. Both players will need to take fewer shots on the floor, obviously, but both players may benefit from having less attention on their movements across the court.

Like Ponds, Heron has a very good steal rate. Also like Ponds, his three-point shooting declined last season; the team hopes that both will connect more efficiently from distance (though perhaps not more frequently, given their ability to break down defenses).

Heron is also a good rebounder for a guard, which will be needed on the undersized Red Storm squad. One can see lineups where Heron plays a forward position, as the Johnnies press up and down the court.

Justin Simon should also enjoy some extra freedom. As the player second-most-likely to be able to create his own shot last season, he had some great games and some struggles. If he and the other players share the ball and opportunities evenly, Simon could emerge as an excellent attacking transition player who creates even more steals and puts up strong assist numbers.

But it’s a happy day in Johnnies land — another impact transfer for the squad.