AUBURN — Basketball fans will get their first chance to see the Maine Red Claws in action Thursday when the new NBA Development League team holds an intrasquad scrimmage at Edward Little High School.

The scrimmage, which will benefit Edward Little and Lewiston high school athletics, tips off at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 each and are available at Edward Little and Lewiston high schools and will be sold at the gate, which opens at 5:30 p.m.

“You don’t usually get to see guys like this in the local high school gym,” Red Claws president and general manager Jon Jennings said. “We’re very excited to be doing this because it’s going to benefit both schools’ athletic funds.” 

It’s a big day for local high school athletics, but also for the Red Claws, who are in the midst of their training camp.

“From a basketball standpoint, it gives us a chance to see where we are,” Jennings said. “Guys playing before the crowd is really, really important. That’s why we wanted to schedule this. We’re not blessed with a lot of time in training camp. The season comes up on us very quick.”

The Red Claws opened training camp last Saturday. That gave them 12 days to prepare before they travel to Sioux Falls, SD for the first game in franchise history the day after Thanksgiving.

Head coach Austin Ainge, son of Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge, has been pushing his team through double sessions in hopes of getting a roster synthesized from league and expansion drafts, league allocations and a tryout camp to jell as quickly as possible. 

He said Thursday night’s session, while intended to make a good first impression on fans, is vital for getting the team ready to play. 

 “We’re going to play it like a real game and use it to evaluate the guys and see where people are at and hopefully fine-tune some things,” Ainge said.

In addition to the scrimmages in Auburn and Portland on Nov. 22, the Claws have their first and only exhibition game against the Springfield Armor on Nov. 23 at the Augusta Civic Center. Tickets are still available for that game. 

Maine had to trim its training camp roster to 12 on Wednesday. The roster included former Lawrence and Maine Maritime star Matt Clement, who earned an invitation to camp after a tryout in Boston. First round draft pick Paul Harris of Syracuse has been sidelined by a foot injury and was one of four injured players making it harder for Ainge to meet the league-mandated cuts.

The roster also includes former Iowa State star Will Blalock and Tyrelle Blair of Boston College. Bringing veteran experience to the squad are Gary Ervin, Scooter McFadgon and Billy Thomas, the Claws’ first expansion draft selection.

The team announced Wednesday that it had waived former West Virginia star Frank Young.

Thomas said fans should get a taste of what the NBADL is all about Thursday. 

 “I think they can expect to see guys playing really hard, trying to play together, trying to feel each other out, guys competing and having fun,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to show that we’re worthy of being a step away from the NBA.”


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