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Cooper Flagg wows during scrimmage against USA Olympic Team


Cooper Flagg looked like a man amongst men for the USA Select Team during its scrimmage against Team USA.

In fact, the opposite is true. Flagg is a boy amongst men, and though he possesses a manlike strength and skill set, the young player is just 17 years old. 

But Cooper Flagg is unlike most 17-year-olds. At 6-foot-9, 205 pounds, Flagg’s stature is already comparable to an NBAer’s. The consensus No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2024, Flagg is set to join Duke next season and is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2025 NBA Draft. 

And for good reason. Flagg’s athleticism and shot-making ability is elite, and he possesses the length, intangibles and work ethic to develop into an All-Star caliber player. He got his first taste of All-Star level competition Monday, nearly leading the Select Team to a win against Team USA in a head-turning performance.

Flagg’s talent was on full display during the 74-73 loss. He sized up Anthony Davis near the right hash mark before rising up for a stone-cold 3-pointer over the 6-foot-11 big man. He got busy in the post, hitting a turnaround jumper over Jrue Holiday. He threw in tough putback lay-up over Bam Adebayo. 

His skill has never been in question. Flagg is a 2024 McDonald’s American and has loads of USA Basketball experience, including a spot on the 2022 FIBA Under-17 team, while he won the 2024 Nike Hoop Summit as a member of Team USA.

But the poise and confidence to show out against the world’s best demonstrates a rare ability that could make Flagg a future great. And after the performance, one NBA coach affirmed that no player on the squad was better than Flagg. All of his teammates on the USA Select Team — including Brandin Podziemski, Amen Thompson, Brandon Miller and Jalen Duren — have played at least one season in the NBA. 

“He kicked butt here,” Select team coach Jamahl Mosley said. “There’s a respect factor for what he’s done. People who have not seen him play, as he gets himself going within the game, they quickly see what he can do.”

For Flagg, who is the first college player to be selected to the Select team since Marcus Smart and Doug McDermott were invited to camp in 2013, there’s still a kid-like awe of the moment. 

“I was shocked, I was surprised, and I was really excited for this opportunity,” Flagg said after hearing that he was selected. Flagg was the first player the selection committee reached out to during its process. “And I’m just really blessed that I was able to come out and capitalize on it and show what I have. I was really grateful to come out and learn. That was the biggest thing for me, just being able to learn and grow, to share a gym with all of these great, great names. Legends. So, I’m just truly blessed.”

Despite his surprise, he made the most of the opportunity to play against the greats with confidence.

“I’m confident in my ability and my skill,” he said after the scrimmage. “At the end of the day, I’m confident in who I am and what I can do, so I’m just coming out to play basketball.”

His ability to compartmentalize the game is part of what makes him such an intriguing prospect. And it doesn’t hurt to get advice from some of the best to ever do it, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

“They’ve all just been pretty welcoming,” Flagg said. “The Select team, they’re appreciative of us being here, and kind of getting them ready, gearing up. So it’s all just welcoming, they’re just telling me to keep working and stay grounded.”

Flagg added that if the USA team can find its chemistry, it will be unstoppable at the Olympics.

“They can be whatever team they want to be,” he said. “They have no weaknesses, no holes. They can play any type of way and dominate. So it’s going to be a dominant team that asserts their will on everybody they see.”

Flagg himself is using what he’s learning from the minicamp opportunity to help him become an unstoppable force at the pro level. But first, some college classes for the 17-year-old.

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