Is Cooper Flagg The Next Larry Bird ?: He Gave Team USA Numbers

In advance of the 2024 Paris Olympics, Team USA Basketball has descended onto Colorado Springs to begin preparation of defending its gold medal.

The team, which consists of NBA superstars Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kevin Durant is expected to once again hoist this gold medal. Since the 1992 Dream Team was assembled, they’ve always faced a Team USA Select group, which usually consists of some of the young rising players in the NBA. 

This year that team boasts 17-year-old soon-to-be Duke Blue Devils freshman and the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruit Cooper Flagg. The 6-foot-8 Flagg is the first college player invited to participate with the USA Select Team since 2013, when current NBA players Marcus Smart and Doug McDermott both did.

During Monday’s session against Team USA Flagg scored 11 points, hitting step-back threes, driving and finishing through contact and even a putback dunk on a miss in which he was also fouled. (Photo: Getty Images)

While Smart and McDermott flashed at times, after a couple of practices Flagg is looking like one of the best players in the gym, and that includes the Olympic team.

The Montverde Academy product by way of Newport, Maine, has all the tools, and he’s putting them on full display in front of some of the league’s top players, coaches and executives. 

Flagg Has The IT Factor

One thing the rangy two-way sensation has always exuded is supreme confidence in his abilities. That’s exactly how he’s played against some of the best the NBA has to offer. During Monday’s session Flagg put in 11 points in a variety of ways, hitting step-back threes, driving and finishing through contact and even a putback dunk on a miss in which he was also fouled.

In all, Flagg showed no fear of the talent-laden Team USA. His play caught the attention of Kevin Durant, who also happens to be Team USA’s all-time leading scorer. 

Flagg told reporters this about his play:

“I was just competing and trying as hard as I can. Giving it 100 percent. I’m confident in my ability and skill. I am confident in who I am and what I can do. It’s a surreal feeling being able to share the court with the national team. I’m blessed to have this opportunity to be here. I had no worries. I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I’m here for a reason. I know that.”

Others Rave About Flagg’s Play

That’s how Flagg has always been, and his play caught the eye of many, one being Kevin Durant, who had nothing but praise for Flagg. 

“He looks like a helluva player. He’s 17 years old coming in here playing like a veteran almost. No emotion. Just going out there and doing his job,” Durant said. “That’s a good sign.”

Flagg’s head coach with the USA Select Team is Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley and he also raved about Flagg:

“Cooper Flagg has a high basketball IQ, tough, willing to learn. He gets to the spots that he needs to for a shot a lot, able to get to the rim, great touch on his shot. I mean, he can play. There’s no in between. There’s me saying, in many different forms, he can just flat-out play.”

That coming from a guy who gets to coach former Rookie of the Year and All-Star Paolo Banchero daily is huge. It also doesn’t hurt that Banchero was also once a Dukie for a season. 

Flagg Is The Projected No.1 Pick In 2025 NBA Draft

As he heads to Duke for what will be one season, Flagg, who averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals per game in leading Florida high school powerhouse Montverde to an undefeated (33-0) season and unprecedented eighth national championship, now has his sights set on leading the Blue Devils to their sixth national title and first in the post-Coach K era. 

He’ll be the unquestioned No. 1 pick in next June’s draft and likely help revive a now-dormant franchise like the Washington Wizards or Brooklyn Nets. 

With the WNBA landing Caitlin Clark and seeing a huge spike in everything around the league, the NBA would love nothing more than to have Flagg do the same with many of the players he’s facing this week on the downsides of their illustrious NBA careers. 

What’s crazy is he may be just the guy to do it. He possesses all the things needed to do so.

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