July 19, 2024

Team USA raves about Cooper Flagg, the 17-year-old standout at Olympic training camp


LAS VEGAS — Cooper Flagg is leaving Las Vegas as the talk of the now-concluded Team USA training camp.

Flagg, 17, an incoming freshman at Duke and an early favorite as the No. 1 pick of the 2025 NBA Draft, is not on the team headed for Paris and a possible fifth Olympic gold medal. But he was the best player on the select team and one of the most consistent players on the court during three scrimmages over the last three days against the national team of stars.

“Cooper Flagg was unbelievable,” said Jim Boylen, assistant coach for both the select team and the Indiana Pacers. “He’s not scared.”

A final points tally for Flagg was not immediately available, but U.S. coaches and executives estimated Flagg scored between 14 and 17 points in a narrow 74-73 loss to Team USA on Monday. And in the portion of the scrimmage open to the media, Flagg drained a corner 3 and then executed an audacious putback over the American defense with 2:08 remaining to put the select team ahead 74-73.

“He’s got that confidence about himself that he’s not afraid of moments, and I think that’s really big for young kids, especially someone his age,” said select team coach Jamahl Mosley, also the coach of the Orlando Magic.

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“He showed no fear,” added Jalen Duren, center for the Detroit Pistons and the select team. “He came and worked hard every day. You would think he’s already here, you know what I mean?”

“Coop was playing out of his mind,” added Jaime Jaquez Jr., a select team player who also plays for the Miami Heat.

Flagg, a 6-foot-9 forward, is the first college player to participate in a Team USA training camp since Marcus Smart and Doug McDermott in 2013. The select team was dismissed after Monday’s practice, as the national team will have a walk-through on Tuesday and play Canada in an exhibition game on Wednesday night in Las Vegas before flying to Abu Dhabi.

After practice, Flagg posed for a picture with two famous Duke alums — Grant Hill, managing director for Team USA, and Jayson Tatum, a national team member, Olympic gold medalist and three-time All-NBA First Team selection.

“Once the ball goes up, I’m just trying to win at all times,” Flagg said, explaining why he was not awe-struck by his surroundings in Las Vegas despite his age. “I’m just a competitor, and that’s what it boils down to. It’s a little bit of an adjustment, being on the court with them, but at the same time I’m just playing basketball and trying to learn.”

Langston Galloway, a former NBA player and longtime USA Basketball player who serves as a practice player for the national team, left the Flagg experience understanding why experts say Flagg will go first in the next NBA Draft.

“I think today was a solidifier (showing) where he’ll be at next year,” Galloway said. “This year, obviously, he’ll be at Duke. But next year, you see where he’ll be at.”

This story will be updated.

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(Photo of LeBron James and Cooper Flagg: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)





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