A return to high school basketball normalcy coming out of the canceled 2021 tournament season produced many memories, but none more notable than the arrival of Cooper Flagg on the scene.
Joined by twin brother Ace, Flagg made his varsity debut at age 14 at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, and by the time the season was over he was 15 and had led the Warriors to the first boys basketball state championship in school history.
At 6-foot-7 he played with a maturity that defied his age, providing leadership and basketball skills that ranged from handling the basketball as a point guard to finishing fast breaks with impressive slam dunks, from blocking shots at the rim to using his reach to steal passes on the perimeter.
Yet that was only part of the story that led Flagg to rank atop the 66th annual Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolboy Basketball Team, as well as become the first freshman in state history named Gatorade Maine Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
The rest is reflected by Nokomis coach Earl Anderson’s frequent refrain to describe Flagg, who has been ranked among the top players nationally in the Class of 2025.
“Great scorer, even better passer,” he said. “Great player, even better teammate.”
Flagg is joined on the BDN All-Maine first team by junior center Joseph “JP” Estrella of South Portland, senior center John Shea of Edward Little of Auburn and sophomore forwards Landon Clark of Bangor and Teigan Pelletier of Oxford Hills of South Paris.
Second-team honorees are junior center Elliot Bouchard of Bonny Eagle of Standish, senior guards Peter Psyhogeos of Yarmouth, Hunter Curtis of Ellsworth, Brady Coyne of Falmouth and junior guard Will Davies of Thornton Academy of Saco.
Third-team selections are senior forward Owen Maloney of South Portland and senior guards Colby Smith and Aaron Newcomb of Brewer, David Omasombo of Lewiston and Trevor Brown of Medomak Valley of Waldoboro.
The All-Maine teams are selected by the BDN sports staff with input from coaches and other veteran observers statewide.
Flagg led all Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A players in scoring, steals, blocked shots and field-goal percentage while ranking second in rebounds and assists. He also helped Nokomis limit opponents to 40.11 points per game during the regular season and just 37.3 points per game during four tournament victories.
“He impacts the game in so many ways, truly a generational talent,” said Kevin Millington, coach of Class AA state champion South Portland High School.
Coaches give just as much credit to Flagg’s unselfish nature and team play for Nokomis’ success this winter, suggesting that his individual statistics could have been much greater had that been a priority.
“Flagg is a next-level talent for sure,” Leavitt of Turner Center coach Mike Hathaway said. “You can see all the reasons people love his game with the athleticism and length, but his hoop IQ and ability to involve his teammates are top shelf, too.”
Flagg and twin brother Ace plan to transfer to Montverde Academy (Florida) in August.
The 6-foot-11 Estrella led South Portland to its first state championship in 30 years and has been offered scholarships by the likes of Iowa, Tennessee, Syracuse, Penn State, Boston College, Marquette and the University of Maine.
“He can go inside and outside,” Thornton Academy of Saco head coach Bob Davies said. “He’s got to be accounted for everywhere on the floor.”
The Southwestern Maine Activities Association player of the year, who led his conference in scoring and blocked shots and ranked second in rebounds, plans to play next year at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
“He’s probably the best shooter I’ve had since I’ve been at South Portland, and he’s really not far from being able to really put it on the floor and drive by people,” Millington said. “Just being that athletic at that size is rare. He’s got the perfect frame to be a really high-level stretch-4 at the next level.”
Shea led Edward Little to the brink of its third Class AA North title in four years and was named the state’s Mr. Basketball.
“He’s been a big piece of our success from the moment he first started here his sophomore year, and he’s gotten better every year,” Edward Little coach Mike Adams said.
The Class AA North player of the year led the division in both scoring and rebounds, with much of his work done from the traditional low post.
“Planning for him was so tough because he attracted so much attention on defense and that would open up cuts and open shot opportunities for the other players,” Lewiston coach Elgin Physic said. “Then if you defended well he was relentless on the offensive boards.”
Shea has been offered a preferred walk-on spot by the University of Maine.
Clark earned first-team All-Class AA North recognition after ranking second in the division to Shea in both scoring and rebounds.
“Landon’s ability to stretch the floor and play on the block makes him much tougher to guard,” Hampden Academy coach Russ Bartlett said. “He’s also able to put the ball on the floor to attack the hoop, which is why his ceiling is very high to play at the next level.”
The left-handed Clark is also a solid ballhandler who helped the Rams cope with fullcourt defensive pressure.
At 6-7 Landon can score in the post, drive to the basket, score from the perimeter and run the floor, Physic said.
Pelletier was a pivotal factor in Oxford Hills reaching a state championship game for the first time since 1990.
Twice he defeated Bangor with last-second shots, including in the Class AA North quarterfinals. Then he defeated Edward Little in the regional final with a game-winning jump shot with 0.4 seconds left in overtime.
Teigen is a player who has a high motor,” Physic said. “He can score in a variety of ways – inside and out – can run the floor, rebound out of his position and is a big-shot maker.”
The All-Class AA North first-teamer led the Vikings in scoring and ranked third among the division’s rebounders.
“We definitely saw what he can do first hand,” Millington said. “He’s a great three-level scorer.”
Bouchard, a first-team All-Class AA South honoree, thrived not only as a rebounder and scorer with growing shooting range but as a ballhandler with the lowest turnover percentage for Bonny Eagle, a South regional semifinalist.
“Elliot is the guy we designed our zone defense around,” Scots’ coach Jack Trull said. “He also dominated in the post this year where 11 of his 17 points on average came from. He is an elite post player and a great defender.”
Psyhogeos was a double-double machine for Yarmouth, as evidenced by his 27 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots as the Clippers edged Ellsworth in overtime to win the Class B state title.
The rangy wing made 50 percent of his 2-point attempts and 32 percent from beyond the 3-point arc as well as 76 percent from the free-throw line. He will take that accuracy to Bates College next season.
“Pete was the best all-around player in Class B and in my opinion it’s not that close,” Hathaway said.
Curtis was Mr. Versatility for Ellsworth, ranking second among Big East Conference scorers and third in assists while leading his team in rebounding for the fourth consecutive year. The Mr. Basketball finalist and the Big East Conference player of the year, Curtis will focus on baseball at Husson University beginning next fall.
“He’s a very unselfish player, one of those guys you love to have on your team,” Ellsworth coach Peter Austin said. “In my opinion he could have averaged from 20 to 25 points per game if he’d wanted to.”
Davies emerged as a premier point guard while leading Thornton Academy to the Class AA South final. The first-team All-SMAA choice ranked among the league leaders in both scoring and assists and shot 38 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
“He’s got unlimited range, he’s really good with the ball in his hands and he has great vision,” Millington said. “He really doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. I don’t want to play him twice next year.”
Coyne captained Falmouth to the Class A South title. A Mr. Basketball finalist, the four-year varsity guard also was named SMAA Class A player of the year and the outstanding player-sportsman of the Navigators’ regional tournament. He plans to play at Bates College next season.
“Coyne is a three-level scorer,” Hathaway said. “He’s a knockdown shooter, good in the mid-range and pullup game and he can get to the rim.”
Maloney was the SMAA Class AA defensive player of the year, and offensively the first-team all-conference choice and Mr. Basketball semifinalist didn’t hesitate to get his teammates involved. Maloney was offered a spot as a preferred walk-on at the University of Maine.
Smith quarterbacked Brewer to the Class A North championship game. The All-KVAC first-team guard and Mr. Basketball semifinalist was among the league leaders in assists, rebounds and steals while shooting 49 percent from the field.
Omasombo epitomized his team’s speed at both ends of the court while leading Lewiston to a trip to the Class AA North semifinals. The Mr. Basketball semifinalist and All-Class AA North first-teamer shot 37 percent from beyond the arc and was considered one of the state’s quickest on-the-ball defenders.
Brown was named the KVAC Class B player of the year after leading Medomak Valley to the Class B South championship game. He was a strong finisher near the rim offensively and as a rebounder, and also was considered a throwback player defensively for his work ethic and ability to draw player-control fouls.
Newcomb was the perfect complement to Smith in the Brewer backcourt, providing the Witches a premier long-range shooter. The Mr. Basketball semifinalist and first-team All-KVAC Class A choice shot 43 percent while making 55 3-pointers during the regular season. He also took on defensive assignments ranging from the opposing team’s biggest player to its quickest guard.