Cooper Flagg’s basketball life just got a whole lot more turbulent

Cooper Flagg and his Nokomis Regional High School teammates spent the past winter traveling to Maine high school basketball hotbeds such as Brewer, Skowhegan, Augusta and finally Portland en route to winning the first state championship class A of the program.

Travel itineraries are a bit more sophisticated this spring.

They started with the 6-foot-8 Newport freshman visiting New Orleans, Louisiana as one of the nationally highest-ranked players in the class of 2025 for a basketball minicamp. American-ball in conjunction with the NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four.

“It was a good opportunity to meet a lot of people,” said Flagg, who also attended the national semifinals featuring North Carolina against Duke and Kansas against Villanova during his weekend in Crescent City. .

Most recently, Flagg and Maine United’s 15-and-under travel squad spent weekends in Orlando, Fla., and Indianapolis, Indiana, as the first Pine Tree State entry to participate. to the prestigious Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.

“It’s a little different from last year,” Flagg said of this spring’s schedule. “It’s obviously the same concept with AAU but other than that it’s pretty much the same, just traveling and playing against other people. But definitely this year we’re traveling a bit more than we are accustomed.

The program, which also includes weekly team practices and individual training at the Eastern Maine Sports Academy in Veazie, is demanding but also rewarding, both for the team and its leader.

Maine United is 7-1 in its first two Elite Youth Basketball League events and could be on track to qualify for the season-ending Peach Jam scheduled for July 17-24 in Augusta, Georgia, where the national league champion will be crowned. .

“It’s really the highest level of competition you can get,” Flagg said. “You don’t find better players than there are in these tournaments, so it’s good to test yourself against the best.”

Flagg and his twin brother Ace Flagg, who are both slated to transfer this fall to prep school basketball powerhouse Montverde (Florida) Academy, are two of nine Maine United team players coached by the former University of Maine men’s basketball player Andy Bedard and aided by former UMaine women’s basketball player Kelly (Bowman) Flagg, the mother of Cooper and Ace.

Others on the list are Nokomis rookie Dawson Townsend, Landon Clark from Bangor, Leo McNabb and Sammy Nzeyimana from Cheverus High School in Portland, Gabe Lash from Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Jace Bessey from Spruce Mountain High School in Jay and Kaden Bedard, Coach Bedard’s son who already attends Montverde Academy.

“It’s going really well,” Flagg said. “Guys are getting up and doing their part. I think everyone realizes how much this means to all of us and works as hard as they can.

Flagg’s individual recognition seemingly increases with each tournament performance.

During the in-state season, he became the first Maine high school freshman to be named Gatorade Maine Basketball Player of the Year and also led the 66th Bangor Daily News All-Maine team after leading Nokomis to a 20-1 record.

Since then, he’s climbed the national rankings for this year’s freshman class and last week was ranked third in the recruiting class of 2025 by ESPN.

“It’s obviously very gratifying to know that all that hard work has paid off,” Flagg said of the rankings. “But just knowing there are two more people in front of you makes you want to work even harder.”

The only players currently listed ahead of Flagg in the Class of 2025 are Cameron Boozer, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward from Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Fla., and Koa Peat, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward . from Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona.

Flagg met both players at the USA Basketball minicamp, and on Sunday he played against Boozer and his twin brother, Cayden Boozer, 24th freshman, in the Indianapolis Elite Youth Basketball League tournament.

The sons of former NBA star Carlos Boozer led their team, the Nightrydas, to victory over Maine United to end their seven-game winning streak.

“With a game like basketball, when you play against each other, it’s always going to be competitive,” Flagg said. “You don’t get to the top without being competitive. I think everyone who is ranked at the top will always have a really competitive mindset, so any friendship you have with someone will obviously be competitive as well.

Flagg’s most recent scholarship offers come from major college programs at UCLA and Iowa, and his play at EYBL tournaments has caught the eye of a myriad of other high-profile coaches from across the country.

Coaches from Kentucky and Duke – apparently a personal favorite of Flagg – were among those present to watch him play in Indianapolis.

“You see them on the baseline,” said Flagg, whose team is slated to return to action at the MADE tournament in Orlando on May 7-8 and at another event in Albany, New York, later in the month before resuming league competition. “But you don’t know exactly how many there are.”

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