Cooper Flagg, Nation’s No. 1 Hoops Recruit, Closing In On College Decision

Cooper Flagg, the No. 1 high school prospect in the Class of 2024, is closing in on a college decision and is expected to decide “very quickly” after visiting Duke later this month.

The 6-foot-8 Flagg visited UConn the weekend of Sept. 22 and is slated to visit Duke for their “Countdown to Craziness” the weekend of Oct. 20. He canceled a scheduled visit to Kansas for this coming weekend following the UConn visit.

The NCAA early signing period runs Nov. 8-15

“Unless he’s unbelievably confused, I’m pretty sure he’s going to make a decision very quickly after he visits Duke,” Kelly Flagg, Cooper’s mother, told The Messenger. “That way, he can put it behind him and focus on what he needs to do to get better.”

Flagg has called Duke his “dream school” and his Crystal Ball on the recruiting site is 100% in favor of the Blue Devils.

“Dream school obviously but there’s still so many more options that I want to look into and everything like that,” Flagg told ZAGSBLOG in January at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.

Duke produces a steady slew of NBA prospects each year, and Flagg clearly has a level of comfort with the school. He took an unofficial visit in August where he was photographed with his former Montverde Academy teammate Sean Stewart.

Still, UConn is the reigning NCAA champion and all indications are that Flagg’s visit to Storrs went well. Flagg stayed with 7-foot-2 sophomore big man Donovan Clingan, a projected lottery pick in next summer’s NBA Draft. One source told me Clingan and Cooper Flagg “speak often.”

Their mothers played together in the 1990s on the Maine women’s basketball team under coach Joanne P. McCallie, who led the program to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1995-2000. McCallie later coached at Duke from 2007-20.

“We wouldn’t have taken a visit [to UConn] if he didn’t think it was a place he could see himself at,” Kelly Flagg said. “He needed to get on campus and get a feel for the culture, and what the coaching staff was like in their environment.”

Connecticut and Maine are obviously both in New England, so there will be some regional familiarity for Flagg, who recently reclassed to become the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2024.

Playing near home is important to Flagg and his family: Kelly Flagg helped arrange for Montverde (FL) Academy to play two games in Maine this coming season on Jan. 5-6, one of which will air on NBA TV

Former UConn star Ray Allen told me after watching the Huskies win the national championship in Houston in April that the school was a “basketball kingdom” where players can avoid distractions that can happen at other programs.

“I can walk down the street, get in the gym and shoot without any distractions along the way, and that’s what I implore every child to think about when they’re picking a school,” Allen said. “Make sure you pick somewhere that doesn’t provide excess that keeps you distracted.”

Three UConn players from last year’s NCAA championship team went to the NBA, while two more — Clingan and freshman guard Stephon Castle — are projected Top 5 picks in next year’s draft, according to a CBS Sports Big Board.

UConn coach Dan Hurley was in the Green Room at Barclays Center in June when Jordan Hawkins and Andre Jackson Jr. were drafted, and he knows that his roster features other NBA prospects going forward.

“Everyone seems to think so,” Hurley said on Draft night. “And they look like it the way they’re practicing.”

Flagg is the projected No. 1 pick in 2025, according to one mock draft. And Hurley and his staff surely would love to add his picture to the wall depicting all of UConn’s lottery picks.

Montverde Academy coach Kevin Boyle, who has coached three No. 1 picks, seven top-3 picks, nine lottery picks, 16 first-round picks and 19 current NBA players, told me Flagg was “unique” among players he’s coached.

“He’s right up there with anyone [I’ve coached],” Boyle told ZAGSBLOG. “His talent and his versatility makes him very unique. His size, his ability to fill up a stat sheet are incredibly special. He can have 10 points and be very instrumental with a handful of assists and deflections and blocked shots and defending the key player on the other team.

“He can be such an incredibly valuable player in today’s NBA world because of his versatility that is really unique.”

NBA scouts rave about him, too.

“Flagg is arguably one of the best, if not the best, high school prospect that has come up through the ranks over the past 10 years, with his age in mind,” one NBA scout in attendance at the Hoophall Classic told me.

“Not sure I can recall anyone better than him with how he impacts the game on both ends of the floor. His best asset is his shot-blocking and passing which shouldn’t overshadow how great of a rebounder, finisher, defender and energy giver he is. I guess you can pull him apart and say he is not a great shooter just yet but that is about it.”

The scout said he could imagine NBA teams tanking in Victor Wembanyamastyle for Flagg down the road.

“When you talk about ceilings and upside, just imagine how good one can become and that is what you have with Flagg,” he said. “As long as he continues to develop properly, get stronger, play the right way as he does and make shots, we are talking about the next Wemba-like tank job for NBA teams.”

Flagg will spend one year on a college campus before his NBA career begins, and it appears we will soon know where that will be.

“I would expect he will decide after the Duke visit in a reasonably short period,” Boyle told The Messenger. “He’s seen both campuses and talked enough to both staffs that he can make a decision. He’s not looking for more attention. Let’s be honest, he’s getting enough of it already.”

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