It's another summer spent with Team USA for basketball and Pine Tree State phenom Cooper Flagg.

Two years ago he helped lead the U-17 Team USA squad to a gold medal at the FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup before being named the 2022 USA Male Basketball Athlete of the Year.

Currently, the No. 1 recruit in this year's class is prepping for his freshman season at Duke by training with the Olympic squad in Las Vegas as part of the select team, comprised of Payton Pritchard, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and a collection of first and second year NBA players, in addition to a couple Euro Leaguers.

It took no time at all for Flagg, the lone collegian, to turn heads...

While Cooper balls out against LeBron, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum and some of the NBA's best, it's kind of crazy to say, yet not at all crazy to think that Flagg may already be the greatest athlete to come out of Maine.

Last September, Chris Sedenka compiled a list of some of the state's most accomplished athletes for WCYY, a Townsquare radio station in Portland. You can access his article right here.

Among the candidates listed by Sedenka are Joan Benoit Samuelson ('84 Olympic Gold Medal - Marathon), Seth Wescott ('06 & '10 Olympic Gold Medal - Snowboard Cross), Cindy Blodgett (no bio necessary), Bill Swift (led UMaine to four College World Series appearances, 20-game winner in MLB), Eric Weinrich (17yrs, 1157 games in NHL), and NASCAR's Ricky Craven in addition to Flagg.

There's no denying the credentials of every member of that group, nor can you discount the community impact and aura that remains to this day around the likes of Benoit Samuelson and Blodgett, specifically.

But what Flagg is doing is already reaching different heights than any Mainer before him. Again, I want to be clear that it's not meant in a disparaging way to anyone before him, but at 17 years old, Flagg already has a national presence. Next winter, he'll likely be one of the faces of college basketball for one of the sport's most iconic brands. He's already being tabbed as no worse than a top-3 selection in next summer's NBA draft.

And, for better or worse, Flagg exists in the social age when we can see highlights of him getting congratulated by LeBron after throwing down a dunk on Anthony Davis as it happens. That will only expand his brand as Flagg continues to develop into a dominant force on the basketball court.

He doesn't turn 18 until December, yet he's quickly becoming the most recognizable athlete Maine has ever produced.


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