Montverde Academy’s Cooper Flagg dunks against CATS Academy Boston during a Jan. 6 game in Portland. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

Cooper Flagg will get a taste of home when the nation’s top men’s basketball recruit makes his collegiate debut for Duke University this fall.

The Newport native and the Blue Devils will open their season against the University of Maine on Nov. 4 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

“That makes it a really unique situation,” UMaine coach Chris Markwood said Wednesday in a Zoom conference call with the media.“For us to be down there playing Cooper in his first game, I think is a pretty special deal. Everyone’s extremely proud of what he’s done up this point and what he’s going to do going forward. 

“It’s just a really special deal what we’re seeing right in front of our eyes right now, with everything that he’s accomplished,” Markwood added. “Everybody up here in the state’s pulling for him and looking forward to what he’s doing on the next stage at Duke – hopefully just not on November 4th.” 

Maine will receive $90,000 to play the game, said Markwood, who added that Duke approached Maine with the idea for the game because of the Flagg connection. 

The 6-foot-9 Flagg’s story has become the stuff of legend. He guided Nokomis to its first Class A championship in 2021-22, averaging 20.5 points, 10 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.7 blocks per game. 


After the season, Flagg and his twin brother, Ace, transferred to Montverde Academy in Florida. Flagg didn’t skip a beat in the Sunshine State, as Montverde went 33-0 in 2023-24 and won the Chipotle High School Nationals, defeating Paul VI Catholic High School (Virginia) – which featured two Duke recruits – 79-63 in the final. Flagg had 16 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in the win.

University of Maine men’s basketball coach Chris Markwood directs his team during a practice in Orono last January. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

For the season, Flagg averaged 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 blocks per game and captured national Gatorade Player of the Year and Naismith Player of the Year honors. 

After months of intense speculation, Flagg announced his intention to play for Duke last October.

“After I got on campus, I really started to envision myself in Durham,” Flagg said in an Instagram post last October. “All the love I felt made me really excited, seeing all the Crazies and the atmosphere in Cameron. I’m honored that I have the opportunity to join the brotherhood.”

Maine last played Duke in 2016, when it dropped a 94-55 decision in Durham, N.C.

Markwood is no stranger to the Cameron Crazies; while an assistant coach at the University of Vermont in 2013, the Catamounts visited Duke and lost 91-90 to a Blue Devils team that went on to finish No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll.


“We played them really tough,” Markwood said. “It was funny watching Vermont play Duke in the (NCAA) Tournament this year and they had an interview with Coach K (former coach Mike Krzyzewski) in which he actually talked about that game.”

Maine finished 15-17 in 2023-24, a year after going 13-17 in Markwood’s first season. The 28 wins are Maine’s most in a two-year span since 2009-11. Guard Kellen Tynes, who will be entering his senior season, has won back-to-back America East Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Duke went 27-9 last season, reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament and finishing No. 9 in both the AP and coaches’ polls.

Nebraska, Minnesota and Boston College – the latter a 69-64 win for the Black Bears in November 2022 – are among the power conference schools UMaine has faced in recent seasons.

“We like our returning core and we want to put them in situations that’s really going to challenge them,” Markwood said. “And there’s no more challenging opportunity than going to Cameron Indoor and potentially the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next year.”

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