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Pitt lands Class of 2016 basketball recruit

| Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 4:33 p.m.

A congratulatory call to Barry Rohrssen from a former teammate led to a conversation that helped the Pitt assistant coach land a highly regarded recruit from the Class of 2016.

When Bryan Heron called Rohrssen, he mentioned his son would be on the summer basketball circuit. After Rohrssen saw Mustapha Heron play at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis, the Panthers quickly pursued the versatile 6-foot-5, 200-pound sophomore.

Mustapha Heron, who is ranked No. 13 nationally by Rivals.com and 14th by ESPN.com in the Class of 2016, made a verbal commitment to Pitt coach Jamie Dixon on Thursday afternoon. Heron picked the Panthers over offers from Connecticut, Maryland and Vanderbilt.

“I felt at home and was very comfortable with the coaches and the atmosphere,” Heron said. “I felt like I would develop there.”

A muscular left-hander who can play multiple backcourt positions, Heron transferred Dec. 18 — just six days after his 16th birthday — from Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Mass., to Waterbury (Conn.) Sacred Heart, near his hometown of West Haven. Heron played small forward but is trying to transition into a point guard.

“I'm an aggressive player: I'm a playmaker and I'm versatile,” Heron said. “I can do multiple things on the floor. I'm an attacker. I like to keep the defense on its heels.”

Heron's father, who played at Central Connecticut and was a teammate of Rohrssen's in Poland in the early 1990s, said the familiarity was a major factor in his son's decision.

“That's a long time,” Bryan Heron said. “I just wanted him to play for somebody I've known for a long time and trust.”

Heron attended the Pitt-Albany game Tuesday at Petersen Events Center, and visited the Panthers locker room afterwards. He said the coaches and players made a positive impression.

“The players were great,” Heron said. “I liked the way they talked to each other on the court. They were supportive. It's like a brotherhood.”

Heron is the third underclassmen to commit to Pitt. The Panthers signed forwards Sheldon Jeter of Beaver Falls and Ryan Luther of Hampton and center Shaquille Doorson of the Netherlands for the Class of 2014 in November. They also have commitments in guard Damon Wilson from Our Savior New American in Centereach, N.Y., for 2015; and in shooting guard Maverick Rowan of Lincoln Park for 2016.

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