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The Rise of Basketball’s Brightest Young Star: Cooper Flagg and His Small New England Town

From Newport, Maine and I-95, snow can be seen sliding across the road northbound. It’s almost graceful how the snow maneuvers from right to left but quickly turns intense as the punches of wind hit the Nissan Altima. Just over the horizon, a green exit sign with the number 157 comes into view from the whiteout. It’s easy to miss, blank local taxidermist, and not much else in Newport, a town with a population of about 3,000. The only places of interest are two gas stations, a few fast-food joints, and a pharmacy, among others.

In this less flamboyant town, a big star is being raised. Its high school basketball player, Cooper Flagg, has already won many accolades and is bound for Duke next season. He is one of the rising stars of basketball. Despite being only from a town that helped produce no professional drafts since 1984, Newport and Maine are basketball communities at heart.

In Maine, the local TV channel streams every round of the annual state high school tournaments, with people from small towns showing up in the tens of thousands. The communities come together to support each generation of players. Most small Maine towns aren’t large enough to support a school themselves, just like Newport.

Cooper Flagg’s parents both played at Nokomis, and it’s where Cooper and his brother, Ace, watched games. Cooper started playing in a nearby summer league as a sixth-grader and was the best player at that time. Kelly, Cooper’s mom, coached the Nokomis varsity girls team and raised the boys with a basketball in their hands.

Cooper and Ace refused to transfer prep schools when offered because they were committed to their local community teams and leagues. Even at a young age, Cooper was already showing extraordinary talent, with his performances putting him in the national spotlight. He remained loyal to his hometown and stayed away from offers to transfer schools.

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