Mustapha Heron
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

With Mustapha Heron receiving his waiver to play from the NCAA, the expectations are sky high for the St. John’s Red Storm this season.

Ricky Keeler

On Saturday morning, the St. John’s Red Storm news everyone was waiting for was finally announced. Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog was the first to report that Auburn transfer Mustapha Heron received his hardship waiver from the NCAA and is eligible to play this upcoming season that begins Nov. 6.

Heron transferred to St. John’s to be closer to his mother, who had a concussion. His mother currently lives in Connecticut.

The Red Storm would already have been an improved team from a year ago if Heron was denied his waiver. However, by adding the guard into the mix, it gives Chris Mullin’s squad another scoring option and it also makes this team’s goals NCAA Tournament or bust for this season in Mullin’s fourth year as head coach.

With the Tigers last year in the SEC, Heron averaged 16.6 points per game and he scored 20 or more points on eight different occasions. He will bring another scoring threat late in games and he can also carry the team on nights where Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon might not have their best scoring games.

Heron’s addition also takes some of the pressure off of Ponds, who is one of the favorites to be the Big East Preseason Player of the Year when that is released at Media Day. It will allow Ponds to play off-the-ball and he can get more rest in games where he is not relied on to play 35-40 minutes per night.

The Red Storm don’t have much size, so they will have to rely on transfer Sedee Keita and freshman Josh Roberts to help down low. Otherwise, St. John’s has some of the best guards in the Big East and they have Marvin Clark II and transfer L.J. Figueroa as forwards who can stretch the floor and shoot the ball from beyond the arc.


One of the things that Red Storm fans saw last season was the impact that transfers can have on a team as Simon and Clark Jr. exceeded expectations. If Heron can match those expectations, this team can do big things in 2018-19.

For St. John’s, the pressure is on them to try to make a run into March this season. With Heron in the mix, they have the talent to at least finish in the top four in the Big East. If they do not have any slip-ups in what is a weak non-conference schedule, then they can do some damage once conference play begins.

Since the Heron situation is now resolved, the Red Storm can focus now on the regular season, which begins on Nov. 6 when they take on Loyola-Maryland at Carnesecca Arena. They have the talent in place on offense and enough defense to have a successful season.

Now, St. John’s has to translate the talent on paper to wins on the court. The excitement around the team is higher than it has been in a while, but the pressure that the team is under this year to win is just as high.

I graduated from St. John's University with a degree in sports management. I previously wrote about the Johnnies at Rumble In the Garden.