Former Auburn star Mustapha Heron granted waiver to play at St. John's this season

Former Auburn star Mustapha Heron has been granted a waiver to play this season at St. John's, the school announced early Saturday.

"I'm incredibly thankful that the NCAA has decided to allow me to play right away closer to home," Heron said. "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."

Heron led Auburn to an SEC regular-season title last season while averaging 16.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game. He entered the 2018 NBA Draft without representation but eventually withdrew and quickly transferred to St. John's. Under normal circumstances, the 6-foot-5 guard would be required to sit out this season. But Heron applied for a waiver based on the facts that his mother, Talia, has been dealing with an undisclosed medical issue, and that the St. John's campus is only 87 miles from his home in Waterbury, Connecticut. In other words, the waiver was rooted in the idea that Heron transferred to be closer to his ailing mother. And the NCAA has granted the waiver this week.

With Heron and Shamorie Ponds, Chris Mullin has two established high-level performers at the Division I level to lead his roster. Consequently, the Red Storm should be expected to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time under their fourth-year coach.

"We're very grateful for the NCAA's decision to grant Mustapha a legislative relief waiver," Mullin said. "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."

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Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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