Cooper Flagg of Newport, Maine, is seen at the training camp for the U17 World Cup national basketball team. Credit: Courtesy of USA Basketball

Newport’s Cooper Flagg has survived the first cut to make the 2022 USA Basketball Men’s U17 National Team on Monday following three days of training camp at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The 15-year-old rising sophomore, who is set to play at national prep power Montverde (Florida) Academy with twin brother Ace next season after leading Nokomis Regional High School to a 21-1 record and Maine’s Class A state championship last winter, is one of 18 finalists selected from an original pool of 34 athletes who were invited to the training camp.

The roster ultimately will be pared to 12 players who will make the U17 National Team that will compete in the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup in Malaga, Spain, July 2-10.

Finalists were selected by the USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team Committee and the roster represents the high school graduating classes of 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Flagg, the No. 3-ranked player nationally from the Class of 2025, is one of three representatives from that class along with No. 1 Koa Peat, a 6-foot-7 forward from Chandler, Arizona, and No. 24 Bryson Tiller, a 6-foot-8 forward from Atlanta, Georgia.

Flagg also is one of two players from Montverde Academy still on the roster along with 6-foot-9 forward Asa Newell, a 16-year-old from Destin, Florida, who is a member of the Class of 2024.

Other finalists from the Class of 2024 are James Brown, David Castillo, Naasir Cunningham, Johnuel “Boogie” Fland, Ian Jackson, Karter Knox and Tyler McKinley.

Advancing from the class of 2023 are Dennis Evans III, Jeremy Fears Jr., Ron Holland, Justin McBride, Sean Stewart, DaJuan Wagner Jr. and Wesley Yates III.

 Several finalists were members of the 2021 FIBA U16 Americas Championship team that won a gold medal in Xalapa, Mexico, including Fears Jr., Holland, McBride, Castillo and Jackson.

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Evans III and Cunningham were 2021 U16 finalists, while Yates III and Fland attended the 2021 U16 training camp.  

Additionally, Flagg, Stewart, Tiller and Wagner Jr. have attended USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamps, with Flagg participating in a camp held in New Orleans in conjunction with the NCAA Division I Final Four in early April.

The U17 training camp is being led by U17 National Team head coach Sharman White from Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. He is assisted by Eric Flannery from St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio, and Steve Turner from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C.

White, Flannery and Turner were the coaches of the 2021 U16 team that won its seventh-straight gold medal.  

In the U17 competition, the USA will contend for its sixth-straight gold medal dating back to the event’s inception in 2010. Team USA boasts a 37-0 record in the U17 World Cup action.

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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...