Huskies may have interest in Waterbury native Heron
By Neill Ostrout Journal Inquirer
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There is a chance, though perhaps a long shot, that the UConn basketball team’s Waterbury connection could be re-established.
Mustapha Heron, the 6-foot-5 Waterbury native who has been a standout at Auburn for the last two seasons, is transferring. And UConn, though its allotment of scholarships is currently full, may be interested in welcoming back a native son.
The Huskies have featured a number of players from Waterbury over the years, including Tony Hanson, who left the program in 1977 as its all-time leading scorer, and Edmund Saunders, who was a member of UConn’s first national championship team in 1999.
Heron, a two-time state player of the year and three-time state champion at Sacred Heart in Waterbury, withdrew his name from consideration for the upcoming NBA Draft Tuesday. But he did not do so that he could return to Auburn. Instead, he plans to leave coach Bruce Pearl’s program in order to be closer to his home.
Heron’s father Bryan Heron told zagsblog.com that the player’s mother, Thalia, has been very sick and that Mustapha wants to transfer closer to her West Haven home.
Under normal circumstances Heron would have to sit out a year of play after transferring, but he is certain to apply to the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would allow him to play for his new school in the upcoming 2018-19 season.
“He’s going to apply for it, but if he doesn’t get it, it is what it is after that,” Bryan Heron told Adam Zagoria of zagsblog. “But he definitely wants to be where he can see his mom on the regular.”
CBSsports.com reported that UConn and St. John’s were the leaders to land Heron’s services. St. John’s was among Heron’s final choices when he ultimately chose to commit to Auburn in the summer of 2015, and the Red Storm may be the most likely to land Heron this time around.
Heron averaged 16.4 points per game and 5.3 rebounds for Auburn last season as a sophomore.
Heron already has experience against the Huskies as a collegian. His Tigers faced UConn in each of the last two seasons, winning both matchups.
Heron had 13 points in Auburn’s 89-64 win over the Huskies Dec. 23, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama, and 15 points in a 70-67 overtime victory by the Tigers Dec. 23, 2016 in Hartford.
Freeman leaves staff
Kevin Freeman, a starter on UConn’s 1999 national championship team and a member of the basketball staff for the last seven years, is leaving the school to become an assistant coach at Penn State. CBS Sports was the first to report the move.
Freeman, 40, was the Huskies’ director of basketball administration at the tail end of Jim Calhoun’s tenure as UConn head coach and through all of Kevin Ollie’s years at the helm. He was expected to remain as Dan Hurley took over the program.
But the attraction of moving up in the coaching ranks and to perhaps be a head coach at some point was too strong a draw to keep Freeman in Storrs.
A native of Springfield, Freeman scored 1,476 points and pulled down 913 rebounds in his collegiate career with the Huskies.