As Auburn attempts to defend its SEC regular season title next season, it will do so without Mustapha Heron.
Heron is entering the 2018 NBA Draft and will hire an agent, effectively ending his college career. He announced his decision on his Twitter account Wednesday morning.
— Mustapha Heron (@Kingheron5) April 4, 2018
“I have always dreamed of playing basketball at the highest level,” Heron wrote in part. “I would like to thank my coaches teammates and all the Auburn fans and Auburn University for a wonderful two years. Playing on the Plains was an experience like no other and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“Again I would like to thank everyone who supported me throughout this process and I will always be a Tiger!”
Heron’s decision is a little bit of a surprise. With a couple months to go before the draft, he’s not a mainstay on the top mock draft boards across the country. Perhaps another year in school would have helped him, especially after his 3-point percentage dipped to 33 percent as a sophomore.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Even if Heron isn’t among the draftees on June 21, he could still find himself with a successful professional career in the G-League or overseas.
Heron spoke with 247Sports’ Evan Daniels about his decision and thought process.
“It’s always been a dream to play at the highest level,” Heron told 247Sports. “Now is a better time than any other time. I’m coming off a pretty good season and the buzz is there and I feel like I’m ready mentally and physically.
“Over the last two years, the first season didn’t go as planned, but we came back and were better this past season … It didn’t end the way I wanted it too, but I grew as a player and defensively I made a lot of changes this year. Just being more lock in defensively and taking more pride in my defense.”
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has released a statement on Heron’s decision:
— Matthew Stevens (@matthewcstevens) April 4, 2018
His teammate, Jared Harper, sent along some congratulations after the announcement was made public.
Heard you lil bro‼️ Go get it https://t.co/okilDL5eMC
— JARED HARPER™ (@Therealvinoo) April 4, 2018
Heron averaged 16 points per game this season as a sophomore with the Tigers.