‘The real deal’: NBA world in awe as 17yo ‘next big thing’ takes over against Team USA superstars

‘The real deal’: NBA world in awe as 17yo ‘next big thing’ takes over against Team USA superstars

This year’s NBA Draft class may have lacked top-end talent but you certainly can’t say the same about the next crop of young basketball talent making waves in America.

Specifically, the clear-cut first overall prospect Cooper Flagg continues to show why the less competitive NBA teams may throw away their season to tank for the 17-year-old.

Flagg is already viewed as the top pick from next year’s class on all draft boards, with Kevin Durant even declaring he can be “one of the top players in the league for 15 years” in an interview with Boardroom.

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“The intangibles that he has, his measurables and his raw talent. I can see that through the TV,” Durant said in February.

Now, Durant and the rest of the Team USA players got to see it up close as Flagg led the way for his Select Team in a 74-73 scrimmage loss on Tuesday (AEST).

Ben Golliver of The Washington Post shared several clips of Flagg’s highlights from the scrimmage on X, formerly known as Twitter, showing the fearless 17-year-old taking over for his team.

The highlights included Flagg draining a pair of 3-pointers over Anthony Davis, hitting a turnaround jumper over Jrue Holiday and flying for an offensive rebound to get the putback against Bam Adebayo.

In other words, at just 17 years old Flagg was already proving he was capable of mixing it with the best in the league.

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“I’m confident in my ability and my skill. At the end of the day, I’m confident in who I am and what I do,” Flagg said in a short interview after the game, posted by Golliver.

Flagg was already generating plenty of buzz on Monday after more clips from an earlier scrimmage against Team USA were posted online, including one which showed the 17-year-old first being blocked by Davis before recovering to pass the ball and make a backdoor cut for the two-handed jam.

Flagg, who averaged 26.8 points, 12.4 rebounds, 5.2 blocks and 4.7 assists per game at the Nike EYBL 16U league, will play his freshman season at Duke later this year after reclassifying.

He was one of 15 players named to the USA Select Team, becoming the first collegian to be picked since 2013.

ESPN’s draft expert Jonathan Givony recently wrote that Flagg “does everything on both ends of the floor”.

“He’s an explosive athlete, a prolific scorer, a much improved 3-point shooter, an outstanding passer and an incredibly impactful defender who plays with nonstop intensity covering ground, making plays at the rim and guarding on the perimeter,” Givony wrote.

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