Nokomis freshman Cooper Flagg (32) dunks the ball during a Jan. 6 game against Skowhegan in Newport. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

VEAZIE — Fresh off of winning the Class A state championship, Nokomis freshmen Cooper and Ace Flagg are hitting the national stage this spring and summer.

The twins are set to play for Maine United, a select basketball team comprised of Maine high school players. Andy Bedard and Kelly Bowman Flagg — Ace and Cooper’s mother — will coach the team.

Maine United announced Saturday that it had received an invitation to the Nike-sponsored Elite Youth Basketball League, one of the top developmental basketball circuits in the country for players aged 17 and under. The league formed in 2010 and is comprised of top AAU or travel teams.

Running from April to July, Maine United will travel to compete in Orlando, Indianapolis, Louisville, Kentucky and Kansas City, Missouri, with the hopes of qualifying for the season-ending Peach Jam tournament in South Carolina at the end of July.

Jason Agren, who owns Agren Appliance in Auburn, will sponsor the team.

The Flaggs said they were looking forward to the challenge of further testing themselves against top-tier competition in a league that has sent over 90 players to the NBA.


Nokomis’ Cooper Flagg takes a jump shot against Falmouth during the Class A state final on March 5 in Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“It’s really exciting, seeing all the success and hard work paying off that all our guys have put in over the years,” Cooper Flagg said. “It’s exciting to play against the top competition in the nation. We’re ready to go out and show people we can play like that.”

“It’s amazing. It’s just such a great opportunity for us to get exposure and just get better,” Ace Flagg added. “There are definitely some nerves going into it, but we’ve been practicing hard and training just to get here.”

Cooper lived up to a wave of expectations by dominating from start to finish in his first varsity season, and he said the EYBL will only sharpen his skill set.

“This is the type of competition that we’ve always been looking for,” he said. “It’s going to make me better, it’s going to make all my teammates better. It’s going to be a good learning experience.”

“That’s why we do it, because of the competition,” added Kelly Flagg, Cooper and Ace’s mother. “They get to play against the best competition, really, in the country every time that they go and step on the floor.”

Nokomis freshman guard Dawson Townsend will also play for Maine United. The eight-player team also features the following: Leo McNabb and Sammy Nzeyimana of Cheverus; Gabe Lash of Medomak Valley; Landon Clark of Bangor; and head coach Andy Bedard’s son Kaden, who plays at Florida’s Montverde Academy. The eight have been playing together since fourth grade.


“It’s more than we ever imagined when we started this thing. It’s one of those opportunities of a lifetime for a kid growing up and trying to push the limits and play against the best players in the country,” Andy Bedard said. “To have Nike love us and love our story and see us play and invite us into this league is beyond our wildest dreams.”

Nokomis freshman Ace Flagg drives to the basket under pressure from Falmouth’s Zach Morrill during the Class A final on March 5 in Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“It’s a dream. Any team, any club would love to get that,” Kelly Flagg said. “Our mission is to make sure all eight of these guys can fulfill any basketball dreams that they potentially have.”

The players put themselves in position for the invitation after succeeding in the MADE League, an East Coast AAU program that’s the developmental circuit for the EYBL. The team made its MADE debut in the 2019-20 season.

“Our very first game, we played a team from North Carolina. … I remember watching them and they kind of looked over at our team, and we could see them kind of snickering a little bit,” Kelly Flagg said. “We started the game and went on like a 20-2 run, and their smirks disappeared pretty quickly.”

Maine United, according to Kelly Flagg, went 9-1 in the regular season that year. When the team returned in 2021, the reception was different.

“There was definitely a different aura around our team,” Kelly Flagg said. “It was more people looking at us, like … ‘Hey, that’s that team from Maine. Those kids are really good!’ It was really neat to see a team from Maine getting that kind of respect on a national stage like that.”


Cheverus’’ Sammy Nzeyimana splits Deering defenders Evan Lagassey, left, and Justin Jamal and puts up a shot during a Jan. 11 game n Portland. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The team’s record on the court, as well as Cooper Flagg’s rising profile, helped allow for the call-up to the EYBL.

“Cooper had carried us through stretches where it was some of the most impressive basketball I’ve ever seen,” Bedard said. “It’s not easy playing out there, we ask a lot of him, and he’s risen to the challenge. He’s got a complete team out there, but there are times where he’s done some things that no (one) from Maine has ever seen.”

The focus now for the team is on continuing that success story at a higher level — particularly now that the secret is out on “that team from Maine.”

“No one’s going to turn their back to us,” Ace Flagg said. “We’ve just got to play our hardest.”

“Nobody handed this to us,” Coach Bedard added. “(It’s been) long, hard practices, a lot of direct coaching, a lot of hard coaching. They’ve earned it. They’ve earned every aspect of it.

“But now that we’re here, it’s time to go to work.”

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