Duke basketball: Cooper Flagg’s impact on program goes beyond the court

Duke basketball commit Cooper Flagg (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball commit Cooper Flagg (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports) /

Cooper Flagg’s impact on the Duke basketball program goes beyond the court. 

Cooper Flagg committing to the Duke basketball program was the first step in his journey to superstardom.

When he arrives on campus, he will bring a cult following that Blue Devil fans haven’t seen since Zion Williamson. The 16-year-old Flagg will be stepping on campus with a loaded first-year class to back him up with Patrick Ngongba II, Kon Knueppel, Darren Harris, and Isaiah Evans.

With more commitments on the horizon, Duke can have six or seven prospects in its recruiting class.

Clay Dade, a scout for the Detroit Pistons Scout, first showed a video of Flagg almost two years ago when he shared a clip of the young freshman at the time doing things that elite players do.

There was a combination of athleticism, toughness, and great size and length at the wing position. Flagg is a much more refined offensive player who’s developed into an outstanding defensive player capable of putting up big numbers on the offensive end. His ability to affect the game on the defensive end only fuels his offensive game, where he makes highlight plays regularly.

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There will be a learning curve when he enters college, just like any other freshman, but the area he will have to adjust most is the matching of his athleticism and strength. He’s typically dominant on those fronts, but in college it will be matched by players on the opposing team. Flagg must refine his ability to get open off the bounce and create separation to ensure he can get clean shots.

His development will be critical as he’s presumed to have a short stay at Duke before jumping to the league.

Duke is fresh off a commitment from big man Patrick Ngongba, one player who can make Flagg’s life easier on the court due to his skill and on-court abilities.

Ngongba is an excellent positional post defender, with a standing reach of 7-foot-4, and his footwork and timing should take some of the defensive pressure off Flagg, who is expected to come in and make an immediate impact on the defensive end.

Ngongba could be better laterally on defense, but with the coaching and proper defensive instruction he will get at Duke, you can expect a much more polished defender out of the Paul VI big man.

Duke basketball with one major question for next season

Elite point guard play is the most significant question mark for Duke in the 2024 class. There will be no Tyrese Proctor when Cooper Flagg reaches Duke and Caleb Foster, depending on his season and draft stock, could bolt to the league leaving the Duke basketball team in a conundrum.

Duke is in hot pursuit of combo guard VJ Edgecombe, who just canceled all his visits except for St. Johns, and they are still involved with Dylan Harper.

There hasn’t been much news on the Harper to Duke front, so it could be a long shot to land Harper now.

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Choosing Duke should prove to be very lucrative for Flagg as he can take full advantage of the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) that was implemented into amateur sports. The number of opportunities for him is endless, which is one of the reasons why you choose a school of Duke’s caliber.

General Manager Rachel Baker will be sure that he maximizes his time in Durham and that it is fruitful for Flagg and his family.

Cooper Flagg also has a chance to win a National Championship while at Duke with the blend of talent and possible experience returning.

While Flagg’s journey is just beginning, and he has much to prove on the court, the aura he brings with him is undeniable. His commitment to Duke signifies a coming together of talent and a program with a legacy of excellence.

For a team accustomed to success, Cooper Flagg may be the missing piece to help Duke return to the pinnacle of college basketball.

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