VEAZIE — Cooper Flagg didn’t know exactly what to expect when he made the trip to New Orleans to participate in the USA Basketball men’s junior national team minicamp.

But he knew he wanted to have fun. And he knew he wanted to turn some heads.

“It was a little bit of both,” Flagg said. “Obviously, you want to have fun with all the guys that you meet. But you definitely want to put a good first impression on all the coaches that are watching.”

By all indications, he succeeded. After bursting on the state scene this season, Flagg continued to make a national impression over the weekend, playing in the camp that serves as an introduction into USA Basketball, and holding his own against some of the best high school players in the country.

“It went pretty good, I played pretty well,” Flagg said. “I didn’t shoot the best, but it was definitely good to get out there and meet a bunch of guys from my class and older guys that are really good.”

“I really liked what he did, and how skilled he was,” added Don Showalter, USA Basketball’s director of youth and sport development and one of the coaches at the minicamp. “He came and really showed us, I think, another level of what he can be as a basketball player.”


There were posts on Twitter from onlookers at the camp saying that Flagg was impressing even among older players, and the Nokomis freshman and future Montverde Academy player said that was rewarding to see.

“It’s definitely good to see people are noticing good things on the court,” he said. “That’s exciting, knowing that people did see and do respect that I’m good.”

The minicamp was structured for the players to have two practices Friday, one on Saturday and then a scrimmage on Sunday, with games often taking place after the practices. All throughout, Flagg said, the intensity was high.

Nokois freshman Cooper Flagg surveys the action at a USA Basketball men’s junior national team minicamp workout last weekend in New Orleans. Photo provided by USA Basketball/Harrison Zhang

“When you were on the court, there was definitely a ton of urgency and energy. All good players are going to have a lot of energy when they’re playing,” Flagg said. “It was really competitive throughout the drills, too. It wasn’t just by yourself. We did a lot of 1-on-1, 3-on-3, stuff like that. It was really competitive.”

Flagg said the drills focused both on technique and concepts.

“It was a lot of skill work for the most part throughout the drills, but then they would also put in some defensive things that they like to teach, like screen coverage, stuff like that,” he said. “There were a bunch of great coaches there. … I was just soaking up everything I could.”


He wasn’t the only one learning. Coaches found out why there has been so much talk about the 6-8 kid from Maine.

“He certainly seems to be around the ball a lot,” Showalter said. “He just has that knack of knowing where the ball’s going to go, and he’s really a great rebounder because of that. I think that’s one of his main things. Obviously, he can shoot the ball well, and he’s extremely athletic. On his rebounds and offensive boards, and defensive-wise, blocking shots, he just has outstanding timing. He’s really a top-level player, skill-wise.”

Nokois freshman Cooper Flagg, right, competes in a USA Basketball men’s junior national team scrimmage last weekend in New Orleans. Photo provided by USA Basketball/Harrison Zhang

Showalter, though, said he was just as impressed with Flagg’s mentality as with his physical talents.

“I think he approaches the game in a great way,” he said. “He’s got a good mental frame about him, he just knows and understands the game very, very well.”

By playing in the camp, Flagg is now in the pool of players who could be selected for future USA Basketball teams. Because of his December 2006 birth date, Flagg will be aged out of the U16 team that will be selecting its roster for competition next season, but he is eligible for an invitation to the U17 team this year, though roster spots tend to go to older players.

Regardless, Showalter said he expects Flagg to find his way onto a roster soon enough.

“He definitely has some possibilities to be with us on some teams,” Showalter said. “From what he showed us, we’d like to see him in that (U17) mix, because he played against the older kids in our minicamp and did very well.”

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