Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Auburn’s Mustapha Heron works out for Nets, Cavaliers
By ADAM ZAGORIA
Auburn’s Mustapha Heron was not invited to next week’s NBA Draft Combine, but he’s making the most of the NBA workouts he does have.
The 6-foot-5 Waterbury, Conn., native worked out this weekend for the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I just came back from the Cavs today,” Heron said Saturday by phone. “I feel it went pretty well.”
The 6-foot-5, 217-pound Heron was joined at the Cavs workout by St. John’s Shamorie Ponds, Villanova’s Omari Spellman and USC’s De’Anthony Melton.
“I’m just trying to show them that I’m a versatile guy, I can play multiple positions, I can defend multiple positions and that I’ve improved my ball-handling and jump-shooting,” said Heron, who ran with the NY Rens on the Nike EYBL circuit alongside Arizona’s Rawle Alkins, who will be at next week’s Combine.
Heron then had an exit interview with Cavs GM Koby Altman, whose team visits the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.
“He said he definitely saw the improvement that I was making in my game and he told me to keep it up,” said Heron, who averaged 16.4 points and 5.3 rebounds last season.
Heron didn’t get to chat with LeBron James or any of the Cavs, though.
“They didn’t come into the gym until after we started getting ready to leave, but they had practice after,” Heron said.
As for the Nets, Heron “tried to show them the same things, that I’m getting better in all different areas.”
He worked out there Friday alongside Nevada’s Cody Martin, Georgia’s Kendrick Nunn, UNC’s Joel Berry, Stanford’s Reid Travis and Villanova’sSpellman (who also worked out for the Cavs.)
Spellman is one of four players from reigning NCAA champion Villanova invited to next week’s Combine, along with Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo.
“He looked pretty good, he definitely looks like he’s still getting in shape, still slimming down,” Heron said of Spellman. “He definitely made that big transformation in his body.”
After the Combine, Heron has workouts with Denver (May 22) and Utah (May 23).
He’s working without an agent and said he’s still “50/50” on whether he might return to Auburn.
The NCAA deadline to withdraw and maintain college eligibility is May 30.
“I’m trying to get all the feedback I can,” said Heron.
Whatever he decides, he feels this process will help him.
“I think it will definitely help me,” he said. “I’m just enjoying it right now, trying to have fun, trying to get better. This has been something I’ve always dreamed of as a kid, being able to work out in front of NBA GMs.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.