Categories crunchfx

Cooper Flagg wows NBA stars at USA basketball Olympic training camp


LAS VEGAS – Cooper Flagg’s performance against the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team has been met with overwhelming praise online.

The gymnasium where the practice match was held included Olympians, future Hall of Famers, NBA and college coaches, and team executives. Attendees raved about Flagg’s performance for the U.S. selection team during three days of practice and practice matches with the U.S. Olympic team.

He made a 3-pointer against All-NBA Defense selection Anthony Davis and on the next play, he made a putback and an and-one against another All-Defense player, Bam Adebayo. He also made another 3-pointer against Davis and a short turnaround shot against Jrue Holiday, another All-Defense selection this season.

And Flagg is only 17 years old.

Flagg, who just graduated from high school, was the No. 1 player in the high school rankings heading into the 2023-24 season, will play for Duke this season and is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2025 NBA draft.

Cooper played like he belonged and acted like he belonged.

“It’s just my mentality,” he said when asked about it by USA TODAY. “When the ball is in the air, I’m always trying to win, so I’m just a competitor and that’s the bottom line. It takes a little bit of an adjustment to be on the court with them, but at the same time, I’m just playing basketball and I’m just trying to win.”

He was the only American player not to play in the NBA or to have played in the NBA.

“I’m confident in my abilities and my skills. So at the end of the day, I’m confident in who I am and what I can do, so I just go out there to play basketball,” Flagg said. “I feel lucky to have this opportunity and to be here. So just knowing that I can go out and compete, I wasn’t worried in a way.

“I didn’t put pressure on myself because there was a reason I was here.”

The “awe-inspiring effect” of being on the same court as LeBron James, Steph Curry and Jayson Tatum didn’t last long for Flagg. “Once the ball was in the air, nothing happened,” he said. “I think at first when you get in the gym and see all those guys, but not once you start playing.”

An NBA team official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly about Flagg, praised his positional stature (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), ball skills, basketball IQ, confidence and court presence.

At Montverde (Florida) Academy in 2023-24, Flagg averaged 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.7 blocks and 1.6 steals while shooting 54.8 percent from the field. He was the Gatorade and Naismith high school player of the year in 2024. While Flagg downplays the pressure, there is a growing sense that Flagg could be the next great American-born basketball player.

What did Flagg learn from the three-day workout?

“Just the physicality, just knowing how far I have to go,” he said. “It’s a lot to work on, just seeing it in real time and how well they do all the little details. So just taking that in, learning from it and just getting better.”

Following practice on the final day of training camp for the U.S. selection team, Flagg posed for photos with the selection team and the Olympic team, as well as former Duke players Chip Engelland (Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics All-Star) and Grant Hill (USA Basketball Men’s National General Manager).

The 2027 FIBA ​​World Cup and the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics seem far away, and even though Flagg has yet to play in a single college basketball game, those events are on his mind.

“That’s something I strive for, I try to do my best and if I can achieve that and make the World Cup team (in three) years, that’s another goal on my list,” he said.