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Mustapha Heron commits to Bruce Pearl and Auburn; Huge for SEC

When Auburn hired Bruce Pearl, it was a turning point for the SEC that could make it more than 'that league Kentucky plays in.'

Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images

When Bruce Pearl made it back into the SEC once the Auburn Tigers hired him, it was easily the biggest coach the league had gotten since John Calipari became the Kentucky Wildcats' head man.

After just one year with Auburn, we're already beginning to see why after five-star small forward Mustapha Heron committed to Pearl and the Tigers.

Heron, a 6-foot-5 wing out of Waterbury (Conn.) Sacred Heart, made the pledge during an unofficial visit to Auburn's campus on Sunday. He is ranked as the No. 16-overall prospect in Scout.com's rankings and No. 23 in the 24/7 Sports Composite rankings.

As of now, Herron is the top prospect any SEC school has gained a commitment from in 2016, including Kentucky. While that will change in due time, it stills shows how big of an impact Pearl will have on what's been one of college basketball's weaker power-5 conference outside of the league's top team.

Take UK away, and this conference is easily the worst power-5 conference and probably the 7th or 8th best overall league. With Pearl now here, the SEC has added the legitimacy it's desired since Florida won the last of its back-to-back titles in 2007.

Since then, it's been mostly Kentucky, a couple of one-and-done NCAA Tournament teams, and a lot of horrendous basketball below them.

Now, Pearl may be able to build the Tigers into a program that can compete for the nation's top recruits while also making deeper NCAA Tournament runs. Heck, his hiring last year may have helped pressure schools like Alabama and Mississippi State to make big-time hires this offseason in Avery Johnson and Ben Howland.