The undefeated Maine Red Claws, with their rookie-heavy lineup, return to the Portland Expo Saturday night at 7 to play the Idaho Stampede.

Guiding the inexperienced Red Claws is the youngest of them all, 21-year-old point guard Abdul Gaddy.

Before Gaddy played for the University of Washington for four years, the Tacoma native played for Bellamine Prep School, which has produced a variety of pro athletes, from pitcher Jon Lester to guard Avery Bradley, a teammate of Gaddy who is now with the Celtics.

The 6-foot-1 Gaddy came out of Bellamine with hype amped up high – too high. He was considered the second best point guard coming out of high school in 2005.

“It’s a good thing because you’re in the spotlight and everyone wants to be in the spotlight,” Gaddy said. “You want to be the best.

“It’s a bad thing because it gives a lot more room for criticism if you don’t do well. I received a lot of good and bad.”

He missed most of his sophomore year with major knee surgery. He never became a big star, but he finished his college career with a 7.7-point scoring average and 4.0 assists per game. He also earned his degree in sociology.

Gaddy was not expected to be drafted in the NBA but when his name was not called there was still disappointment.

“It didn’t work out,” said Gaddy, who did join the Charlotte Bobcats for the summer league and then preseason camp. He was eventually cut.

“It was a chance,” Gaddy said. “Still a good experience. Next time I go through that process I’ll know what to expect.”

Meanwhile, he’s dishing for the Red Claws.

“Abdul is a crafty playmaker,” Maine Coach Mike Taylor said. “Sometimes I hear about a guard who thinks he can play the point. But I believe people are point guards by nature.

“He’s a point guard by nature. He’s a pass-first guy. A floor general. Great potential to distribute the ball and make plays. There’s going to be some mistakes, and growing and learning.”

And winning. Helping Maine to a 3-0 record, Gaddy is averaging 4.3 assists (and only 1.67 turnovers).

Gaddy said he enjoyed his experience from Washington, even if he did not fulfill the lofty expectations.

“I didn’t achieve a lot at Washington, but I could have achieved more,” he said. “I could have been a better player in all aspects. Could have done a lot more things. All those things just drive me to be better.”

Gaddy wants that bright spotlight back on him.

“I’m chasing to be great. I can’t stop working,” he said.

MAINE WILL BE playing in Portland for the first time without veteran guard Jermaine Taylor, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the last home game.

Guard Kammron Taylor, no relation to Jermaine or the coach, has been activated in Jermaine Taylor’s spot. Kammron Taylor, a second-year pro, was in the Celtics preseason camp this year.

THE IDAHO STAMPEDE played their first three games at home and won all three. They were scheduled to play in Springfield late Friday night, before heading to Portland.

The Stampede are led by their first-round draft pick, 5-11 guard Pierre Jackson of Baylor. He averaged 27 points in his first three games.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH