Nokomis freshman Cooper Flagg (32) takes the ball to the hoop as Messalonskee’s Jacob Love (23) defends during a Class A North boys basketball quarterfinal game on Feb. 19 at the Augusta Civic Center. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

AUGUSTA — The hardware keeps coming for Cooper Flagg.

The Nokomis freshman’s sensational debut season earned another honor Wednesday as Flagg was named the Gatorade Player of the Year, after he averaged 20.5 points, 10 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.7 blocks per game and led the Warriors to the Class A state championship. Flagg became the first freshman to win the award in its 37-year history.

The 6-foot-8 Flagg is the 10th winner from the area, and with Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher winning the award in girls basketball, it’s the fifth time altogether and the first since 2015, when Messalonskee’s Nick Mayo and Lawrence’s Nia Irving were selected, that the awards have gone to two local winners.

“It’s pretty exciting, just knowing that all the hard work and hours that you put in are paying off,” Flagg said. “There’s a ton of great players … that won this award. It’s a big confidence boost, knowing you’re among some of the all-time greats of the state.”

Nokomis coach Earl Anderson said the award reflects Flagg’s versatile play, which sees him control the game on both ends of the court.

“I think that’s the best part of this. Obviously I’m biased, but I think he truly was the best all-around basketball player in the state, who had the best impact on his team,” he said. “There’s no part of the game that he doesn’t do well. He plays great on the defensive end, he’s an outstanding rebounder, defensively and offensively. He’s a great passer, he’s a great scorer, sees the floor as well as any player in the state. I think he truly is the best all-around player.”


Flagg said his expectation was to make that kind of an impact in his varsity debut. With the freshman in the middle, the Warriors went 21-1, ending the season on a 20-game winning streak that culminated in a 43-27 victory over Falmouth in the Class A title game.

“I don’t think you really could have (drawn it up better), honestly,” he said. “This is what I was expecting for myself, these are the expectations I was setting for myself and for the team. Just to go out and achieve them and achieve your goals and achieve your dreams is something that’s really great.”

Everything Flagg and his Nokomis teammates accomplished this season came against a backdrop of expectations, and he said he was proud of how the Warriors handled the pressure.

“The season has shot above any expectations that could have been placed on us,” he said. “I think we handled everything really well, and we got everything done just how we would have liked.”

Flagg’s ability to challenge shots, play passing lanes and poke the ball free from dribblers anchored Nokomis’ sturdy defense, and in addition to scoring, his passing ability in transition and in the halfcourt allowed the rest of the Warriors’ cast, led by starters Ace Flagg, Madden White, Connor Sides and Alex Grant, to flourish.

“It was clear early on in our preseason games that he was a unique, special talent, but the good thing is he continued to get better and he continued to make his team better,” Anderson said. “To me, the highest compliment that you can give a player is (that) he makes his teammates better. … I think Cooper’s best attribute is he makes all of his teammates better.”

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