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Mustapha Heron to transfer closer to home; St. John’s a possibility?

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Connecticut player, recruited early in Mullin’s tenure, could come back east

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Mustapha Heron, a 6’5” former five-star recruit from Connecticut, is looking to move closer to home — and according to Zagsblog, is seeking a medical hardship waiver to be immediately eligible in 2018-19.

You might wonder how this concerns St. John’s basketball.

Heron, a talented scorer who led the Auburn Tigers two years in a row in scoring, is rumored to be considering St. John’s, who have one scholarship available after Boubacar Diakite’s recent departure.

Mustapha Heron had declared for the draft as Shamorie Ponds — without an agent — but Heron had stated an interest in signing with an agent anyway. As of last week, he had not, and Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl thought he might return.

He will not. His mother has been sick for a year, so it makes sense that he might want to come closer to home.

But family medical hardship waivers for immediate eligibility, abused readily by homesick transfers, were eliminated in 2015. Despite that fact, Wichita State is currently applying for a hardship waiver for a transfer from West Virginia to be able to play immediately.

The Shockers’ reasoning for believing the waiver has a chance to be granted is unknown — the stated “his support system is closer” statement for the appeal sounds no stronger than any rationale used pre-2015. But if the NCAA is somehow tweaking those hardship rules, the St. John’s staff (or the staff at another nearby D-1 college) could be the beneficiary.

Heron was recruited by former St. John’s assistant Barry Rohrssen, committing to Pittsburgh early in his high school career and then accepting an opportunity to visit St. John’s when Rohrssen was working with Chris Mullin’s staff. He committed to Auburn in August of Mullin’s first year, however.

Heron averaged 16 points per game on 49% shooting inside the arc, 33% shooting from outside of the arc, and a healthy diet of free throw attempts, nearly eight per 40 minutes. He would be a force to be reckoned with on the Red Storm if he were eligible this season, whether or not Shamorie Ponds chooses to return to the program.