It’s official: Cooper Flagg is headed next year to Duke University.

The Newport native and top high school basketball prospect in the country revealed his decision Monday morning, sharing on Instagram a post with Slam 247 his commitment to the perennial powerhouse and five-time national champion.

Connecticut, the defending national champion, was also in the running to land the 6-foot-9 forward.

“My college decision wasn’t an easy one at all,” Flagg said in the post, which included an audio recording. “… After I got on campus, I really started to envision myself in Durham. All the love I felt made me really excited, seeing all the Crazies and the atmosphere in Cameron. I’m honored that I have the opportunity to join the brotherhood.”

The 16-year-old Flagg’s college choice had been a hot topic for conversation since his freshman season at Nokomis Regional High, during which he led Nokomis to the 2022 Class A championship. It became a national talking point, however, as he transferred to Montverde Academy in Florida, turned in a dazzling performance for Team USA in the FIBA Under-17 World Cup last summer and began rising up the national prospect listings. He reclassified into the Class of 2024 in August, allowing him to play in college one year sooner.

Flagg, who was not available for an interview for this story, is the No. 1 high school player in the country according to and ESPN, and “the heavy favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2025 NBA draft,” according to


“It’s almost surreal, it’s exciting,” said Kelly Flagg, Cooper’s mother and a coach for his Maine United club basketball team. “We dreamt it as a family, we saw it. As a basketball family, we wanted something like this, but you never really believe it until you’re there. To see him fulfilling his own dreams and his own destiny is pretty awesome.”

Flagg’s recruitment was the subject of national scrutiny and speculation. Kelly Flagg said making the decision was a relief.

“Now that it’s out there, there’s a lot of stress and weight that’s been lifted,” she said.


Kevin Boyle, the head coach at Montverde Academy, said the attention around Flagg’s recruitment was the most given to any of his players since Ben Simmons in 2014. He said he’s confident Flagg will be able to adapt to high-end college basketball with the Blue Devils.

“The guys who tend to struggle from high school to college or college to the NBA are guys who have to change their position and how they play,” he said. “In Cooper’s case, the way he’s playing with us and the way he’ll play with Duke is similar to the way (he’ll play) in the NBA.”


Boyle said Flagg’s versatility, and ability to play like a forward at guard and a guard at forward, is what sets him apart from the other talented prospects.

“He’s more complete than most guys,” he said. “There are some guys that shoot it better than him, but those guys don’t rebound as well as him or guard as well as him. There are some guys who can pass as well as him or maybe a little better, but they lack in some of those other areas. And when you (look at) his size, his length and his athleticism, you have a guy that you can see why the NBA and college are really excited about the potential.”

Flagg’s introduction to Duke started early. Kelly Flagg, a Blue Devils fan, said she used to dress him and twin brother, Ace, also a Division I prospect, in onesies – Cooper in Duke’s royal blue, Ace in the University of North Carolina’s lighter blue. In middle school, Ace wore UNC-colored neckties, Cooper wore Duke.

As Flagg’s basketball career began to take form, that interest in Duke, which has made 17 Final Fours and produced three No. 1 NBA Draft picks since 2011, continued.

“Cooper watched those teams from the time he was six, seven, eight years old up until now,” Kelly said. “When it started looking like he was going to be able to play basketball in college, Duke was certainly on a list of schools.”



Kelly Flagg said that Cooper “leaned” toward Duke during recruiting, but that UConn intensified its push in the spring. She said that Flagg was impressed by Coach Dan Hurley and the program, and that a visit to the school in September put the Huskies in the game.

“When we left UConn and we came home, it was not a foregone conclusion that he was going to go to Duke,” she said. “He was really, really enticed by what he had seen at UConn.”

A trip to Durham two weekends ago to for a second Duke visit – this time officially, after an unofficial visit in August – proved the clincher for the Blue Devils, however.

“He felt like he could see himself there,” Kelly Flagg said. “He said it felt like home, like it was where he was supposed to be.”

NCAA schools cannot comment on recruits until a high school athlete signs a National Letter of Intent, which for basketball players this fall can take place on Nov. 8.

According to the site, which tracks college and high school athletes’ name, image and likeness (NIL) valuations, Flagg ranks 28th with a valuation of $872,000. Kelly Flagg said the potential for NIL earnings didn’t factor into Cooper’s decision.


“We didn’t even have that conversation,” she said. “For us, that’s not the important stuff.”

Flagg’s meteoric rise has been unparalleled in the state. He turned heads in the winter of 2021-22, when as a freshman he was named Gatorade Player of the Year and Varsity Maine Player of the Year while leading Nokomis to its first state championship. The Warriors beat Falmouth, 43-27, with Flagg scoring 22 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in the victory.

From there, Flagg’s national profile increased dramatically. He was named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 2022, the youngest ever to earn that distinction, after leading Team USA to a World Cup gold medal while averaging 9.3 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.

Flagg joined Montverde, a prep basketball power, in March 2022 and impressed in his sophomore season, placing third on the team with 9.8 points per game and first with 1.6 steals and 2.2 blocks per contest. In July, Flagg made headlines while leading Maine United to a runner-up finish in the Peach Jam tournament in South Carolina, a run that included a 34-point, 20-rebound performance in the semifinal.

Maine fans will have a chance to see Flagg play live before he heads to Durham. Montverde Academy scheduled a pair of games that will be played in Portland Jan. 5 and 6. Montverde will play South Shore High School of Brooklyn, New York, at Cross Insurance Arena at 7:30 p.m. Jan, 5, and CATS Academy Boston of Braintree, Massachusetts, the following day at the Portland Expo. The time for the second game has yet to be determined.

Flagg had his home state on his mind last week, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, after the Lewiston shootings unfolded Wednesday night.

“All of our focus should be on supporting the victims, their families, and law enforcement – everything else can wait. My heart is with Maine,” he wrote Thursday morning.

Kelly Flagg said Cooper was planning to announce his commitment Thursday, but waited until Monday while the shooting and the ensuing manhunt dominated the news.

“Our hearts and our minds were there with our home state and those people and what they’re going through,” she said. “At least feeling like it’s been resolved allows everybody to kind of begin healing.”

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