AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn basketball guard Mustapha Heron made an interesting discovery at the end of his freshman year on the Plains.
After the Tigers were eliminated from the SEC Tournament by Missouri and the books on the 2016-17 season were finally closed, the 6-foot-5 guard learned he had sustained a left leg injury.
“Early in the offseason I had a stress fracture in my [left] shin, so that kind of set me back about a month and a half,” Heron told reporters following Auburn’s practice on Wednesday evening. “I’m still working on coming back from that now. My teammates and coaches are doing a good job of helping me work through that.”
Coach Bruce Pearl said the injury, which Heron developed after the season, kept Auburn’s freshman All-SEC honoree out “probably 4 to 6 weeks” this spring, during a time when Auburn wasn’t doing much. The coach added that Heron is now “doing great.”
The injury didn’t extinguish Heron’s desire to improve either. He’s since been in the gym “as much as possible” and everywhere else, too.
“Going to the gym every day, in the weight room, track workouts, pool workouts,” Heron said.
The first-ever 5-star player in Auburn history is hoping to improve several aspects of his game for his sophomore year.
“My all-around game,” Heron said. “Becoming a better ball handler, better playmaker, better shooter, defender — just my all-around game.”
Right now, however, one of Heron’s biggest focuses is his team’s trip to Italy in early August. It’s a country the Connecticut native has previously visited. During the summer of 2015, Heron played in Treviso, Italy, with the U18 U.S. Select Team.
Still, Heron’s excited for what lies ahead in coming weeks.
“I think we’re doing a good job so far of getting ready for Italy,” Heron said. “I’m expecting us to go out there and do big things.”