While the 2024 NBA Draft has been deemed as weak, the 2025 NBA Draft could see incessant tanking thanks to Cooper Flagg. The 16-year-old from Newport, Maine, was the consensus number-one prospect in the 2025 high school recruiting class before reclassifying to 2024 following his sophomore year and now he’ll be headed to Duke a year ahead of schedule.
Cooper Flagg is a two-way star with serious NBA Draft hype
Flagg will headline a Duke class that includes three other five-star recruits and is considered the best recruiting class in the 2024 cycle by 247 Sports. Just about every major scouting service views Flagg as the number one recruit in his class and a very early front-runner for the first overall pick in the 2025 NBA Draft.
Among scouts, Flagg is viewed as a special two-way prospect. Listed at 6-foot-8, 195 pounds, Flagg is considered to be the best shot-blocking prospect of his size in recent memory. His immense two-way potential and shot-blocking ability from the wing have garnered comparisons to Andrei Kirilenko. While Kirilenko was under-appreciated in his time, he is the only player to lead the league in blocks per game to never have been classified as a center, and he was one of the best two-way players at his peak.
Flagg’s defensive potential as a game wrecker from the wing is tantalizing, but his offensive game has also impressed scouts. Flagg has earned praise for his playmaking, feel for the game, and shooting touch from all three levels. His handle and overall shooting lag behind his other skills but have shown tremendous growth and projection. Depending on how his on-ball skills develop, he could be a wholly unique NBA star.
Adding a little extra fuel to the fire, Flagg won’t turn 17 until this December, meaning he’s on track to enter the NBA as an 18-year-old. Age plays a significant role in prospect models, and Flagg’s combination of elite production and measurables at such a young age suggests he could be one of the best American prospects of the past decade.
Will Duke help or hurt Flagg’s draft stock?
Duke has a long history of producing high-level NBA talent, and Flagg could one day join that list. Since the 2011 draft, Duke has produced 25 first-round picks, 10 top-10 picks, and three first overall picks. While some of those players have been busts (Jahlil Okafor, Marvin Bagley III), many more have been unmitigated successes (Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, Kyrie Irving, Zion Williamson, Paolo Banchero).
Duke’s most recent draft class was their first to feature players not coached by Mike Krzyzewski, and the results were mixed. Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead were the top two players in the class of 2022 but fell to 12th and 22nd in the 2023 NBA draft. Recruiting rankings are not a perfect proxy for NBA draft prospects, but Lively and Whitehead underwhelmed in their lone college season, and their draft stock suffered as a consequence.
Time will tell if Jon Scheyer, Duke’s current head coach, has the same NBA draft Midas touch as his predecessor, but we’ll likely have to wait a year to see as the 2023-24 Duke team looks short on impact NBA-level talent. Tyrese Proctor and Kyle Filipowksi are considered Duke’s two best NBA prospects but are currently projected as mid-first-round picks. Strong seasons from the pair would help alleviate concerns that Scheyer isn’t up to the task of helming Duke basketball.
Cooper Flagg is the total package and is Duke’s first super recruit in the Scheyer era. His success or failure could alter Duke’s reputation among high-end recruits. With how sky-high Flagg’s potential is, chances are the 2022-23 and 2023-24 will be a small blip for one of the NCAA’s best pipelines for high-level NBA talent. He may be a year away from our television screens, but Flagg is a special prospect worth reclassifying our attention for.