Cooper Flagg dunks the basketball during a practice with the U.S. Under-17 team in preparation for the FIBA World Cup. Credit: Courtesy of USA Basketball

Fans of the star twins Cooper and Ace Flagg from Newport will get to watch the sophomores on national television starting on Thursday when the pair compete for Montverde Academy as the team defends its GEICO Nationals Championship title.

Montverde (23-2), the top seed and defending champion of the GEICO High School Basketball Nationals championship, will begin its title defense on Thursday at 6 p.m. against No. 8 Sunrise Christian from Kansas. The game will be on ESPNU.

If the Eagles win, they will play in the semifinal on Friday at 4:30 p.m. against the winner of No. 4 Link Academy and No. 5 St. Paul VI on ESPN2.

The championship game on Saturday, April 1, will be broadcast on ESPN at 12 p.m.

The tournament is located in Fort Myers, Florida.

Cooper Flagg, who transferred this past summer from Nokomis after his freshman year, leads Montverde in steals per game (1.6) and blocks per game (2.2) while being second in assists (3.0), third in rebounds (5.2) and points (9.8). Flagg has averaged 18.6 minutes per game and was named to the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference Second Team as well as the All-Defensive team.

Montverde’s head coach Kevin Boyle expected Cooper Flagg to compete for playing time when he joined the team but Flagg immediately became a starter and has been working on his ball handling, defense and post play.

“I think you could argue that next year he will be the best player in high school basketball, especially projecting his game translating into the professional game,” Boyle said.

Flagg’s work ethic and attitude has set him apart.

“Some guys you might think are a little better now but Cooper has all the ingredients,” Boyle added. “I think he’s really good and a huge window for development. If he keeps his attitude right and the work ethic up, I think he has a legitimate chance to be a multi-year first-team all-pro player for years.”

Ace Flagg averages 1.6 points in four minutes of gametime per contest.

He has been doing the little things for the Eagles, becoming a good screener, taking charges and working on his defense. Boyle hopes Ace Flagg gets another growth spurt, but said in his next two years his playing time should increase.

“Ace has done a phenomenal job,” Boyle said. “We want him to become sort of like a Draymond Green where he’s good at screening, screening for Steph Curry — screening for his brother, for [Montverde senior] Liam McNeeley. I think he played a lot of center in high school last year and now he’s understanding how to be a perimeter guy. He’s understanding how other guys get shots.”

Montverde is looking to win its fourth national title in a row and eighth in 11 years.

This year’s team has been the closest in chemistry that Boyle has had in his 35 years.

“Cooper, Ace, and the whole team in my 35 years of coaching — hopefully they win because they work so hard — but I’ve never had a team that likes each other so much,” Boyle said.

“I am not saying they’re going to win — but with their effort and bond they almost deserve to win  — but they have to do it on the court.”

Adam Robinson is a native of Auburn, Maine, and graduate of Husson University and Edward Little High School. He enjoys sports, going on runs and video games.