Nokomis freshman Cooper Flagg drives the ball down court past Hampden Academy’s Nick Johnston during a preseason game on December 2. At far left is Ace Flagg. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

It’s one and done at Nokomis Regional High School for freshmen basketball sensations Cooper and Ace Flagg.

The twin basketball stars who helped lead the Newport school to its first state championship in boys basketball this winter have decided to leave Maine.

Cooper and Ace Flagg announced in separate Instagram posts on Tuesday that they have made the decision to attend Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida, beginning in August.

Montverde Academy, coached by Kevin Boyle, has what is considered among the top prep basketball programs in the country, and on Dec. 1, 2021, the Eagles were ranked No. 1 nationally by MaxPreps.

“We’re just looking for an opportunity for them to really get the best competition day in and day out and play at a really high level and develop their skills so they’re ready for the next level when they get there,” said their mother, Kelly Flagg.

Both players thanked the Nokomis community for its support and said that Maine will always be their home.

“I greatly appreciate and love the support that everyone from Nokomis has given me,” Cooper Flagg wrote in his post.

“Maine will always be my home,” his twin brother Ace said.

Cooper and Ace Flagg starred on the AAU basketball circuit before debuting their skills to the Maine high school basketball community this winter at Nokomis.

The Warriors, who had never won a regional or state championship in boys basketball, went 21-1 and won the Class A state championship behind the Flagg twins.

Cooper Flagg, a 6-foot-7-inch wing who has been ranked among the top players nationally in the Class of 2025, led the way, averaging 20.5 points, 10 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.7 blocked shots per game for coach Earl Anderson’s club.

Cooper Flagg became the first freshman in Maine history to be named the state’s Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Ace Flagg, a 6-foot-6 forward, added 11.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game as a freshman for the Warriors, who ended their season with a 20-game winning streak capped off by a 43-27 victory over Falmouth in the Class A state championship game.

“I always knew this might be a possibility but it was a decision that they and their family thought was best,” Anderson said.

“They’re great teammates and complete team players. They’re totally unselfish, they’re not looking to get theirs, they’re looking to do what it takes to win. On the defensive end they were outstanding. They’re both excellent defenders and that takes a whole other level of effort and sacrifice and unselfishness.”

The Flagg twins have been recruited by prep schools around the country, including Montverde Academy, for the last two years, their mother said.

“The boys had gone on a visit down there last April, but we knew at the time that we weren’t ready to pull them and they had made the commitment that they were going to play for Nokomis at least for this year because it was a dream of theirs to play with their brother [Hunter, a senior on this year’s Nokomis team] and get that one year with him and try to do something special here at Nokomis.”

The prep school recruiting intensity picked up once the current school year started, Kelly Flagg said, leading to some campus visits.

Montverde Academy originally wasn’t in the picture.

“But when when we visited there Ralph [Flagg, the twins’ dad and Kelly’s husband] and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is a little far for us to be comfortable with,’ and even though it was a great school they’re so young and it was hard to imagine and think about sending them that far away,” she said.

“But I think not only did we have some great conversations with coach Ray Miller, who’s the associate head coach for Kevin Boyle, but we had great talks with coach Boyle as well.”

The twins then had the chance to see Montverde Academy play in the Spalding Hoophall Classic, a tournament featuring some of the top prep teams in the country held in Springfield, Massachusetts, during mid-January.

That experience proved to be a defining moment in the decision-making process.

“After that game they looked at each other and said that’s what they wanted to do,” Kelly Flagg said. “They liked the style of play, they liked how coach Boyle coaches, so things came together.

“We knew that’s where they were leaning but we still had to go through the application process and that came together in the last few days.”

Just last spring, four Montverde Academy alumni were selected in the first round of the National Basketball Association draft, including No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, now with the Detroit Pistons, and No. 4 pick Scottie Barnes, now with the Toronto Raptors.

Other current NBA players who went through Montverde Academy include Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Coach Boyle has a pretty good reputation of developing the best, if you look at the players that he’s coached over his tenure,” Kelly Flagg said. “That speaks for itself, and then there’s the exciting opportunity to really play at such a high level on a national stage.”

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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...