November 11, 2012

On Basketball: Red Claws arrive, with plenty of tales from backgrounds

There will be 16 players competing for the 10 roster spots as practice begins Monday.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The players are in town. Physicals on Sunday. First practice Monday. Meet the media Tuesday, dinner with fans Friday, benefit scrimmage Saturday

The Maine Red Claws' itinerary is filling up.

Training camp begins Monday with 16 players. That number will be pared to 10 by Nov. 21. The season opener is Nov. 23, the home opener a week later.

Of the 16 players, seven came from last week's D-League draft, one by trade, three returnees, two as "affiliate players," meaning they are connected to the Celtics, and three got an invitation after a tryout.

Some facts about them:

The youngest player, 6-foot-3 point guard Shelvin Mack, 22, has the most NBA experience, spending all last year with the Washington Wizards.

The oldest player, 6-10 center Chris Ayers, 29, has played internationally (Japan and Malaysia) as well as three seasons in the D-League.

The last time 5-10 point guard DaQuan Brooks played in Maine was 10 months ago, when he scored 33 points for Western Connecticut State in a 111-78 victory against the University of Southern Maine.

While Brooks is the only Division III player, 6-6 forward Omar Reed is the only player from an NAIA school, Bluefield (Va.) College. Reed, 25, has played two pro seasons, one in England, the other in the D-League with the Austin Toros.

Brian Cusworth, 28, graduated from Harvard in 2007 with a degree in biology. The 7-foot center played for the Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets in summer leagues, but has spent his pro basketball seasons in Europe, the last three years in Spain.

Jeremiah Rivers, a 6-5 guard, is not only the son of Boston Coach Doc Rivers but was a Georgetown teammate of Celtics forward Jeff Green in 2006-07. Green went on to the NBA; Rivers eventually transferred to Indiana. He played in Serbia last year.

Champ Oguchi, a 6-6 guard, played for the Nigerian Olympic team in the London Games. He scored 35 points in a loss to France. Oguchi, 26, played for the Red Claws in 2010-11. He globe-trotted last year, playing in Lebanon, Iraq, Venezuela and the Philippines.

Raheem Singleton, the 6-foot point guard from the University of Maine, may be a long shot as one of the three players in camp after a tryout. Singleton, who averaged 7.8 points and 3.4 assists his senior year, is not flashy but steady on both ends of the court.

Corey Allmond, a 6-2 guard drafted in the eighth and final round, may feature the best twitter handle: @TeamAllmondJoy.

SO WHO will make the team? Mack appears a given as the starting point guard. Returning guards Oguchi and 6-5 Xavier Silas would seem solid, as is returning 6-8 forward Chris Wright.

Cusworth and 6-8 Micah Downs were cut from the Celtics' preseason camp. With the Celtics now making the personnel decisions for Maine, you would think those two should be safe.

But it's all a guess. The tryouts, with two-a-day practices on most days, will sort things out.

THE SPECULATION continues that Boston will not only send down one or two NBA rookies for games, but that 7-foot center Fab Melo and 6-7 forward Kris Joseph might join the Red Claws for practice.

According to Chris Forsberg of ESPN/Boston, Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge said the two could join the Red Claws in training camp.

And a reminder that NBA players do not count against the roster limit of D-League teams. So if Melo and Joseph join the Red Claws, Maine can carry 12 on the roster.

THE ANNUAL KIDS and Claws welcome-back dinner will be Friday at the Expo, starting at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 (adults) and $10 (12 and under), with proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Maine, and the Red Claws Foundation. For more information, contact the Boys & Girls Clubs at 874-1069.

A BENEFIT SCRIMMAGE has been scheduled for at 6 p.m. Saturday at Edward Little High in Auburn. Tickets are $5 and proceeds go to the high school.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

 

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