Cooper Flagg of Newport, who will be a freshman at Nokomis Regional High School this fall, already has received his first college basketball scholarship offer. Credit: Contributed

The earliest date Cooper Flagg could accept a college athletic scholarship is in November 2024. But early indications suggest that he could have plenty of options when that time comes.

Flagg, a 6-foot-7-inch basketball forward who will be a freshman at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport this fall, got his first scholarship offer late last month from coach Jared Grasso at Bryant University, an NCAA Division I program in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

“I was just in awe, pretty much,” was the 14-year-old’s immediate reaction to the news.

Flagg and twin brother Ace, a 6-foot-6-inch center, have played travel basketball together at regional and national events for several years and received considerable recognition. Cooper is entering high school as one of the most acclaimed Maine players ever at his level.

Cooper Flagg of Newport will be a freshman at Nokomis Regional High School this year and already has received his first Division I college basketball offer. Credit: Courtesy of Christina Hughes

He is ranked among the top 100 players nationally in the Class of 2025 by numerous online publications, with his home state of Maine tucked onto lists typically reserved for prodigies from much larger basketball hotbeds.

“I try not to pay too much attention to them,” he said of the listings. “I just keep playing and I know that my game will get me where I want to go.”

College basketball scholarship offers for players so young are rare. Perhaps the most memorable example involved Damon Bailey, a future All-American at Indiana University who in 1986 was offered a scholarship as an eighth-grader by Hoosiers’ coach Bob Knight as chronicled in John Feinstein’s book, “A Season on the Brink.”

The Flagg brothers play on a Maine United travel team coached by former Boston College and University of Maine standout Andy Bedard that earlier this year captured a Zero Gravity National Finals eighth-grade championship.

That schedule has included trips to Boston, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Orlando, Kentucky and Indianapolis.

Flagg and his family are aware of the uniqueness of the early scholarship offer. His mother is Kelly (Bowman) Flagg, a Bangor Daily News All-Maine first-team basketball player in 1994 and 1995 for Nokomis who then played at the University of Maine, where she was part of the 1999 squad that defeated Stanford in the NCAA Tournament.

She said Bryant had begun following social media accounts for Maine United and also invited the twins to its prospects camp in August.

Flagg and his family are doing their best to keep the attention in perspective. His mother said he has stayed unassuming although he is on social media and sees much of what is written about him.

Cooper Flagg goes up for a slam dunk. The 6-foot-7-inch Flagg, who will be a freshman at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport this fall, already has received his first Division I college basketball scholarship offer. Credit: Courtesy of Amanda Turner

“It’s almost like he just drowns out the noise,” she said.

Flagg understands such noise can be a natural byproduct of success at the regional and national levels, but it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to deal with given his dual goals for travel basketball of playing the best competition possible and attracting the attention of college coaches in hopes of landing coveted scholarship opportunities.

“That’s pretty much the point of going to all of these exposures and showcases and tournaments outside the state because a lot of coaches aren’t going to come up all the way to Maine to watch players play,” he said.

The travel basketball season now has slowed a bit as the new school year approaches. That will bring another goal for the Flagg twins as well as classmate and Maine United teammate Dawson Townsend and older brother Hunter, who will be a senior returning to the Nokomis basketball program this winter.

“Our goal has been to win the state championship,” Flagg said. “That’s what we’ve always wanted to do.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...