Guerschon Yabusele, a 2016 first-round draft pick of the Boston Celtics, has secured a work visa and will join the Maine Red Claws for the remainder of the season.

Scott Morrison, head coach of the Red Claws, confirmed Wednesday morning that Yabusele was to practice with the team later in the day in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Maine (28-20) has lost three straight games but is close to clinching a spot in the NBA Development League’s playoffs, which start next week. The next Delaware loss or Maine victory would give the Red Claws a third straight Atlantic Division title. The Red Claws have two regular-season games remaining – at Greensboro on Friday and at Windy City on Saturday. Delaware beat Greensboro on Wednesday night to stay alive.

A 21-year-old forward/center, Yabusele averaged 20.9 points and 9.4 rebounds in 43 games this winter with the Shanghai Sharks in China. Drafted 16th overall, he played Summer League basketball with the Celtics alongside Abdel Nader, Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey, all of them regulars in recent lineups for the Red Claws.

“He’s a great talent,” Nader said. “He’s a versatile (power forward). Gets to the rim, finishes well, shoots the 3, very big body and a strong rebounder. I think he’s a hell of a player.”

Born in France to parents originally from the Congo, Yabusele watched the Claws play last Thursday and Sunday at the Portland Expo. He said he picked up English through basketball as well as listening to music and CDs.

Playing in the China Basketball Association as an import, Yabusele said he grew more confident in his ability.

“It was great for me because I had to take care of the ball and make the plays for the team,” he said. “I had more responsibilities and it was actually a great season. We lost in the first round but we made the playoffs and it was a goal.”

An ankle injury suffered in Shanghai’s final playoff series has largely healed, he said.

While playing in the United States over the summer, Yabusele also picked up a nickname from Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry.

“He thought I was moving pretty fast for my weight,” said Yabusele, listed at 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds. “So he called me The Dancing Bear.”

Yabusele visited the American embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, on Monday in order to expedite his paperwork. Morrison said all did not go smoothly, but Yabusele managed to get it done.

After Wednesday night, three teams from the Central Division – Raptors 905, Canton and Fort Wayne – had clinched playoff berths, with the Toronto-based 905 running away with the title at 37-11. That left Maine (28-20) and Delaware (26-22 after Wednesday’s win) battling for the final Eastern Conference berth.

The Red Claws have advanced to the playoffs three times, but are winless in six games, having been swept in each of the past two seasons under Morrison.

“Never won a playoff game?” Nader said upon learning the news of the three first-round losses. “We’re not going to let that happen.”

Under the D-League playoff format, each best-of-three playoff series in the first round will begin at the wild-card winner before moving to the home of the division winner for the second and third games. Because the Expo is hosting the 48th annual Portland Home Show April 7-9, any Red Claws home playoff game isn’t likely to be played before Monday, April 10.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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