Auburn, Ala.--In the long history of basketball for the Auburn Tigers very few players have come to the Plains with more fanfare than five-star guard Mustapha Heron. One of the top prospects in the country, Heron's signing and enrollment was another step in the right direction for Coach Bruce Pearl and his staff as they look to take the program to among the elite in the SEC.
How they'll get there said Pearl is to keep bringing in players like Heron, and not simply because of his talent on the court.
"Mustapha Heron is a five-star, not because he's a freak," Pearl said of his talented freshman. "He's a five-star because he's a disciplined student-athlete. He's a guy that's in here all the time at 6:30 in the morning. He eats right. He takes care of his body. He just trains. He's a hard worker and he's a very good athlete and he's got a great future in professional basketball. But not because he was just born with it.
"So therefore Mustapha is going to take what comes. He's not expecting to come in here as a freshman and be a dominating five-star player -- he wants to be one of the better freshmen in the league, not necessarily by whatever numbers he puts up, but because of how we do and with his development. He's mature, he's team-first. Mustapha Heron is going to play, but he's not going to be a player that is going to lead us in scoring every night because he was a five-star.
"And he doesn't expect to. There could be a night he does. But he's in a good place and he knows he's on a team with some other good players and I think our fans won't be disappointment. He's not going to try to prove his stars. That's just not who he is."
The MVP of the prestigious Derby Classic All-Star Game and one of the most prolific scorers in the country, Heron has plenty of skill and athleticism to go along with his work ethic, but he said for them that's where it all starts.
"They told me to take a little break," he said of his 6:30 a.m. workouts. "Going into the season they want me to try to save my body so I'm trying to find other things. I'm just getting more sleep and mapping my day out from there.
"I think it's something within myself," Heron added of his work ethic. "It definitely comes from my father because growing up he was hard on me and he told me that you only get good through hard work."