SOUTH PORTLAND — Tim Frazier, point guard of the Maine Red Claws, prepared to take two free throws with the score tied and a fraction of a second remaining Sunday evening in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Frazier swished the first to give Maine a lead of 81-80. That’s not surprising. In 14 attempts as a professional basketball player, he had yet to miss a free throw.

After accepting the basketball for his second shot, Frazier turned and looked toward the Red Claws bench to see if coach Scott Morrison was thinking what Frazier was thinking. Morrison, however, was in discussion with an assistant coach over defensive options should Fort Wayne, the defending NBA Development League champion, manage to set up a potential buzzer-beater.

Frazier raised his right arm but couldn’t get Morrison’s attention, so he turned back to the basket and carefully hoisted a brick. He intentionally caught the back iron and watched the ball bounce into the hands of a Fort Wayne forward, who could do nothing but listen to the game-ending horn.

“It makes sense to miss it,” Frazier said. “You never know. A heave could turn into a nice three-pointer. So I missed it and we got the win.”

Now in their sixth season, the Red Claws take a 2-0 record into Friday night’s home opener against the Canton (Ohio) Charge. Tip-off at the Portland Expo is scheduled for 7 p.m. They play again Sunday afternoon at 5 against the Delaware 87ers before returning to the road.

One of the early bright spots for the Claws has been the play of their point guard. In the season-opening 111-105 victory at Oklahoma City, Frazier handed out nine assists to go along with four rebounds and 18 points — including 12 of 12 from the line. In the second half, when Maine rallied from 17 points down, Frazier did not turn the ball over.

“He’s got a reputation as a guy who steps up in key moments,” Morrison said. “And so far, through two games, he’s definitely shown that he’s got a clutch gene in him.”

Red Claws center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, a 7-footer from Auburn, said Frazier is both tenacious and intelligent on the basketball court. An honor student who chose Penn State over Stanford for his college career, Frazier earned both a business degree in supply chain and information systems and a communications degree during a post-graduate fifth year.

That extra year came about through what Frazier initially considered the “one of the biggest setbacks” of his life but is turning out to be a boon to his career.

“It’s crazy to say that,” Frazier said Tuesday morning in the bleachers at Southern Maine Community College, where the Red Claws are practicing while their parquet floor at the Expo gets resurfaced. “It was two years ago today. I’ll never forget the day, November 18th.”

Frazier, who grew up in Houston, was in Puerto Rico with the Nittany Lions for an early-season made-for-TV tournament, the fourth game of a season that held such promise for a senior captain named to a host of pre-season award watch lists. Coming off a high screen in the sixth minute against Akron, Frazier went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon. His season was done.

“When it first happened, I was at a loss for words,” Frazier said. “I was lucky my family was there. It was hard. I cried. Then I said I’m not going to look back on that. I’m going to go all out and get back to normal.”

His older sister Krystal, who played basketball at Rice University, had done the same thing so she told him about the rehabilitation process. Instead of withdrawing into self-pity, Frazier threw himself into the program, helping teammates, delivering scouting reports, assisting the coaching staff.

During timeouts, as the coaches gathered to share thoughts before addressing the team, Frazier would speak to his teammates about what he had noticed. It was an apprenticeship, of sorts.

“I wouldn’t wish that (injury) on anybody,” Frazier said. “But having a year to sit out and just become a coach was definitely helpful. The game slowed down for me a lot throughout that season.”

Granted a medical red-shirt by the NCAA, Frazier returned for a final season of eligibility after which several NBA teams expressed interest. Frazier – who is not related to Walt or Joe – accepted an invitation from Philadelphia to play in the Las Vegas Summer League. The Celtics invited him to their training camp, which is where he met Morrison and worked alongside fellow Red Claws Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford, the other two players affiliated with Maine’s parent club.

Frazier also learned from the Boston point guards – Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Phil Pressey and Marcus Smart. He played in five exhibition games, although not the one in Portland.

“It was definitely beneficial,” Frazier said. “I learned some great things. I got a taste of the NBA and I can’t wait to get back up there.”

Morrison said there are aspects of Frazier’s game that need improvement, in handling the ball and playing defense.

“If he cleans up some other things he has to work on,” Morrison said, “then he’ll be a real tough player in this league and, hopefully, at the next level as well.”

NOTES: Guard Jason Calliste, a Toronto native who had been stuck in Canada because of visa problems, finally joined the Red Claws for practice Tuesday morning after passing his physical. Calliste played for the University of Oregon last season after spending three years and graduating early from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Glenn Jordan — 791-6425

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH


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