Cooper Flagg’s connection with Brian Scalabrine goes deep

Mar. 6 — This past summer, Cooper Flagg traveled to Boston to meet and work out with Boston Celtics big man Brian Scalabrine.

At the time, hype had been growing in Maine as YouTube videos of 14-year-old Cooper and his twin brother, Ace, started to circulate around social media.

Scalabrine invited Cooper Flagg to the gym where he plays to see. Flagg, not even a freshman in high school yet, proved to be the real deal.

“A guy he works out with, (Matt Mackenzie) a guy from Results Basketball, I’m a friend of his, and he calls me and goes, ‘I’ve got this kid, he’s really good,'” Scalabrine said. “I said, ‘Bring him down.’ My pickup in Boston is the best pickup. I have pros there, washed-up NBA players and high schoolers.

“And so I bring him down, and I’m there to bully Cooper, to show him he’s not that good. He came in and dominated the run. Dominated. He had a move and he dunked it, and instead of the gym going nuts the gym went silent. Did a 14-year-old just come into our gym and do that? “

Flagg’s star has since shined brighter and brighter throughout the Maine high school basketball season, and Scalabrine has been following along.

Scalabrine was on hand Saturday to see the freshman score 22 points and pull down 16 rebounds in a 43-27 win over Falmouth in the Class A state championship game at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

Scalabrine said that once every few weeks, he reaches out to Flagg via voice memo or text message.

“I just want to be there for him,” Scalabrine said. “I just want to be there for him. Any advice he wants, anything he needs. And my answers are always lying in the hardwood. The work is where you’ll find all your answers.”

Flagg’s mother, Kelly, also was a star at Nokomis, earning two all-state recognitions, before playing at the University of Maine.

She said it means a lot to her sons and their teammates to have Scalabrine show up for the state championship game.

“It’s been really great,” Kelly Flagg said. “We’re fortunate we’ve made that connection with Scal. He’s so great, to be so kind and generous and willing to work with a freshman. He’s an incredible talent himself, and he understands the process and knows the game. It’s a great person to surround ourselves with. He knows the ins and outs of what it takes to get to the next level. We’re so happy that he came and supported the boys, it means so much. “

In a week, Flagg will begin practicing with his AAU team, Maine United, which is coached by former Mountain Valley standout Andy Bedard, as the team prepares to play in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).

Scalabrine said he will see more of Cooper in the coming months.

“Cooper is special,” Scalabrine said. “That is generational talent. In three weeks, for Maine United, he will be playing against our AAU squad, and so he’ll be staying at my house, working in the summer time, all that stuff.”

Flagg said that he values ​​the former NBA player’s input and willingness to help him.

“Scal is a role model,” Flagg said. “He’s someone I look up to because who wouldn’t? Just looking up to him, he gives me tips and helps me get better. I workout with him sometimes and he’s just a great role model.”

No one knows what the comings seasons holds for Cooper and Ace Flagg, but Scalabrine thinks Cooper has a high ceiling.

“I think he could be an NBA player, but he just has to keep working,” Scalabrine said. “I think he could be an NBA player. His feel for the game is exceptional. I think his feel for basketball, besides the height and length and athleticism, his feel for the game is probably better than any high school kid I’ve ever seen. “

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