Nokomis’ Cooper Flagg maneuvers around Falmouth’s Zach Morrill during the Class A state championship at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena on March 5. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

Cony High Coach TJ Maines said he is the best player he’s ever coached or played against – at the high school or college level. 

Mt. Blue Coach Troy Norton called him a “once-in-a-lifetime player.” 

They’re talking about Cooper Flagg, who as a freshman at Nokomis Regional High in Newport averaged 20.5 points, 10 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.7 blocks a game while leading the Warriors to a 21-1 record and a Class A boys’ basketball state championship.

He is our selection as the Varsity Maine Male Athlete of the Year. 

Video of Flagg’s highlights as an eighth-grader started to catch the attention of Maine basketball fans months before his first Nokomis practice. He was already tall, quick, had a handle and was throwing down monstrous dunks in middle school. 

The hype only grew in high school, where the 6-foot-8 Flagg was already among the best in the state at passing, scoring and defending. After the season, he was named the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and the Varsity Maine Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.


Flagg garnered more attention during a preseason game against South Portland that was sold out in advance.

During that game, Flagg made a chase-down block from behind to stop South Portland from taking the lead right before the buzzer.

“I watched their South Portland game, and he’s just so impressive,” Norton said. “The length, the skill. I think the most impressive thing is that he can do it all. He rebounds like a center, passes like a guard, can shoot, and plus he was their best defensive player.”

Nokomis lost to Brewer in its second game of the season but then won its final 20, capped by a 43-27 victory over Falmouth in the Class A title game, in which Flagg scored 22 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.

In the weeks after the championship, Flagg reflected on what is likely to be his only season of high school basketball in Maine.

“Mentally, I matured a lot throughout the season,” he said, “just working on not getting upset with the referees and realizing time and score and the type of things that you can only get through experience.”


The legend of Flagg grew with each game, but Nokomis Coach Earl Anderson said the attention never got to Flagg, or his teammates.

“He has a lot of humility,” Anderson said. “He took it as well as anybody. We dealt with it as noise. Because he’s such a good teammate and they’re good kids and they cared about winning, there was never any jealousy. They took it as a positive, the people showing up, yelling. It could have been a negative, but not with this team. They just wanted to be successful.”

The emphatic dunks always made highlight reels, but his basketball IQ impressed veteran observers just as much.

“He can see the game and how it’s going, and it’s almost Larry Bird-esque,” said Andy Bedard, coach of Flagg’s club team, Maine United. “He can control the game with his mind. … He’s gifted beyond belief athletically and is most of the time the smartest guy on the court, including both coaches.”

Interest in Flagg has increased since the end of the high school season. He has performed well in national tournaments with Maine United and received scholarship offers from top programs such as Duke University, UCLA and the University of Michigan.

In April, ESPN ranked him as the third-best freshman in the nation.


Flagg also was invited to tryout for the United States’ U17 national team, and he was one of two 15-year-olds to make the squad that competed earlier this month in Spain. In the championship game, he had 10 points, 17 rebounds, eight steals and four blocked shots as the U.S. defeated Spain, 79-67.

Next season, Flagg will be playing at Montverde Academy, a prestigious basketball school in Florida.

While his time in Maine high school basketball appears to be one-and-done, his legacy won’t be.

“I tell our kids that someday it’ll be cool to look and say, ‘He played in our gym, we played against him,’” Norton said. “He got a lot of attention, as he should have, he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player.”

“He’s just all-around the best player I’ve ever seen in this area,” Maines added. “The best player I’ve coached against, played against at Colby College or coached against at Thomas College.”

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