LAS VEGAS – Cooper Flagg is leaving Las Vegas as the talk of Team USA’s just-concluded training camp.

Flagg, 17, a freshman at Duke and an early favorite as the No. 1 pick in the 2025 NBA draft, is not on the team heading to Paris and possibly a fifth Olympic gold medal. But he was the best player in the selected team and one of the players on the field in the last three days against the Stars national team.

“Cooper Flagg was unbelievable,” said Jim Boyle, assistant coach of both the draft team and the Indiana Pacers. “He’s not afraid.”

“He showed no fear,” added Detroit Pistons center Jalen Duren. “He would come and work hard every day. You’d think he was already here, you know what I mean?”

“Coop was playing out of his mind,” added Jaime Jaquez Jr., a designated player for the Miami Heat.

“He wants it, you can see how bad he wants it,” said Devin Booker of the US national team.

That was just a sample.

A final score for Flagg was not immediately available, but American coaches and executives estimated Flagg scored between 14 and 17 points in Monday’s narrow 74-73 loss to Team USA. And in a scrimmage open to the media, Flagg drained a corner 3 and made a bold move on the American defense to lead the team 69-68 with less than 2 minutes left. Flag missed the ensuing free kick.

Team USA won thanks to back-to-back 3s by Booker and then Jrue Holiday (who was tasked with guarding Flagg – a credit to the Duke freshman because Holiday is one of the best defenders in the NBA). Anthony Davis hits Brandin Podzimski’s game-winning shot at the buzzer.

One of Flagg’s 3s came against Davis, which was revenge for the block Davis recorded against Flagg in Sunday’s game.

“Yesterday he was suspended, and today he came back and hit him in the face,” Jaquez said. “After that he got a -1 rebound, so those were a few plays, and he got a steal in there. He was unbelievable today.”

Flagg, a 6-foot-9 forward, joined Marcus Smart and Daw McDermott in 2015. He was the first college player to participate in Team USA’s training camp in 2013. He’s not the first first-team player to shine and disrupt the United States’ training camp. Like a group of stars. For example, last year Cade Cunningham showed similar reviews.

But Cunningham has already been in the NBA for two seasons, and part of why his draft picks have drawn such praise is because of a knee injury that cost him most of his second year in Detroit.

Flagg, well, he’s not old enough to vote. But his competitiveness belies his youth.

“I think he has a competitive fire, and he’s not afraid of anybody and he’ll go at you,” Golden State Warriors big man Trace Jackson-Davis, 24, said. . “You need it as a player. And if you’re like that and you’re 17, the sky’s the limit.”

The squad was rejected after Monday’s practice, as the national team will travel on Tuesday and play Canada in an exhibition game in Las Vegas on Wednesday night before flying to Abu Dhabi. Duke coach John Scheier and two of his assistants were in Las Vegas to watch Flagg, as were Flagg’s parents.

Flagg He was a member of the USA Under-17 team that won World Cup gold in 2022, and was both the Gatorade and Naismith Boys National Player of the Year last season in high school out of Monteverde Academy in Florida.

All are high praise, but it’s not the same as NBA championships, Olympic gold medals and all-time leading scorers.

“Once the ball goes up, I’m always trying to win,” Flagg said of why he wasn’t surprised by the Las Vegas environment at his age. β€œI’m a competitor, and that’s it. Being on the court with them is a bit of an adjustment, but at the same time I’m playing basketball and trying to learn.

In numerous interviews, USA staff and select team players have hinted at Flagg’s ability and size. But also his mental ability.

“He’s got a confidence that he’s not afraid of moments on his own, and I think that’s really big for a young kid, especially for someone his age,” said coach Jamahl Mosley, select coach of the Orlando Magic.

Langston Galloway, a former NBA player and longtime USA Basketball player who serves as a practice player for the national team, has become a fast supporter of the flag game.

β€œI’m not impressed with the scoring and all that. I’m very impressed with him,” Galloway said. β€œNow he’s not trying to force it like it’s my turn. Let me try to shoot.’ He’s trying to make plays. You can see that he clearly understands the game. Get in the paint, everyone falls, read it right. So for a 17 year old to be able to understand the game, this is the most amazing part.

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Boylen, a former head coach in the NBA and coach of the United States team that qualified his country for the 2023 World Cup, said Flagg would make a good player on the international stage. After this summer, the men’s national team will not compete again at the 2027 World Cup in Qatar and the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

By the time the next Olympics roll around, Flagg will have three years of NBA service under his belt.

“He’s got versatility, he’s got positional size, he’s a good playmaker and he accepts contact,” Boyle said.

Flagg has confirmed his desire to participate in the World Cup in three years as the game continues to develop.

“That’s something I’m trying to be as good as I can be and if I can achieve that and make the World Cup team in two years, that’s another goal on my list,” Flagg said. “I’m working and trying to get better every day.”

Galloway left Flagg’s experience with an understanding of why they say Flagg will be the top pick in the next NBA draft.

“I think today is a strong (indication) of where he will be next year,” Galloway said. β€œThis year, obviously, it’s going to be at Duke. But next year you will see where it is.

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(Photo of LeBron James and Cooper Flagg: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)