He had beaten the odds to make the Maine Red Claws roster.
But the satisfaction Raheem Singleton felt last week turned sour Monday when the team released him. Singleton was cut to make room for former Red Claws forward Justin Brownlee.
“They told me after practice. It was a complete surprise” Singleton said by phone Monday night from the Indianapolis airport.
The team played in Fort Wayne, Ind., Sunday and practiced in Indiana Monday, before flying back to Portland. Head Coach Mike Taylor could not be reached for comment.
The Red Claws play their home opener this Friday night at the Portland Expo.
Singleton, 23, a Boston native, was the one “local” player on the team, having graduated from the University of Maine last spring.
Brownlee, 24, is a 6-foot-7 second-year pro out of St. John’s University.
Undrafted out of college, Brownlee tried out for the Red Claws last November and made it. He played 50 games, averaging eight points and 4.9 rebounds.
In the off-season, Brownlee played in summer leagues for the NBA (Knicks) and EuroBasket (Team Brussels).
Singleton, a 6-0 point guard, had tried out for the Red Claws this fall. Considered a long shot to make the team, Singleton impressed the Maine staff with his defense and hustle.
Singleton was considered the backup point guard to starter Shelvin Mack. But Singleton did not appear in the first two Red Claws games this past weekend on the road.
Shooting guard Xavier Silas can also play point, which made Singleton more expendable.
Singleton was also valuable because he is a rookie and D-League teams must carry at least one rookie on their roster.
For now, Boston Celtics rookies Fab Melo and Kris Joseph — assigned to Maine to get more experience — count as rookies on the Red Claws roster. If both of those players get called up to Boston, the Red Claws would have to sign another rookie.
So Singleton may not be done with the Red Claws.
“They said they liked me. They want me to stick around and practice with the team,” Singleton said. “They said people get called up all the time.”
Singleton has a lot to sort out.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “Just practicing. That’s kind of tough. I would be on my own.”
Before joining the Red Claws, Singleton put his degree in child development to use, working at a home for troubled youth in Massachusetts.
The release of Singleton leaves Maine with three true guards (Mack, Silas and Champ Oguchi) and several small forwards who can also play guard.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: