SJ Takeout: Mustapha Heron

HAMPTON, Va. — New Heights features one of the most talented teams at this weekend's Southern Jam Fest, and Heron is one of the squad's key performers.

Here, in April 2014, I find myself continuing to make a mistake. When a player such as Mustapha Heron takes the court, I reflexively say, "He's a Big East wing."

The mistake becomes more frequent when, as in Heron's case, the player in question is committed to an old Big East school.

Heron pledged to Pittsburgh in January, citing a family relationship to Barry "Slice" Rohrssen (now departed) and giving the Panthers a jump on their 2016 class, assuming he remains committed.

But of course the Panthers no longer prowl the Big East, and now they've taken their hardscrabble style to the traditionally more finesse (but no longer) ACC. Irrespective of conference affiliation, however, Heron could play in any conference.

He's a power wing forward. He isn't a guard and, at 6-4, isn't tall enough to play in the post. Heron has utilized his admirable strength, aggression and athleticism to fashion himself into a full-time slasher. He loves to burrow into defenders, push them backward and finish at the rim. He's also a tough rebounder and could develop into a defensive monster as well.

A southpaw, Heron's primary weakness is an inconsistent jump shot. He passed up several open attempts today in a fierce game versus Team Loaded-NC, preferring instead to drive. While that works at times due to his strength, he also knifed into the teeth of the defense and forced some poor shots. His form doesn't look too bad from the perimeter, but clearly that's an area he needs to focus. He also needs to tighten up his dribbling.

Still, the bottom line is that we're dealing with one of the most physical and determined prospects yet to emerge from the Class of 2016. Whether that's a Big East thing or not, it's definitely a Pitt thing. And the Panthers continue to project as one of the country's toughest programs.

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