The most anticipated commitment in the 2024 class finally came on Monday, with Cooper Flagg — the best prospect in high school basketball and the heavy favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2025 NBA draft — picking Duke over UConn. The Blue Devils were considered the likely destination for Flagg for most of his recruitment, although the Huskies made a strong push and closed the gap considerably before Duke finally won him over on his recent visit to Durham.
Flagg cemented himself as the best player regardless of class during a dominant summer at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Orlando, Florida, in late June and at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam in July. At the time, he was battling for the No. 1 spot in the 2025 class with Cameron Boozer, but in August, Flagg announced he was reclassifying into the 2024 class — immediately putting him in position to be the top NBA pick in 20 months.
Flagg has shown he’s capable of elevating his teammates with his performances on the grassroots circuit with Maine United while also demonstrating he can fit in seamlessly with other elite prospects at Montverde Academy (Florida). The latter is more likely to happen at Duke, but Flagg is an incredible talent who will be the biggest draw in college basketball from the moment he steps onto campus.
Jeff Borzello, Myron Medcalf, Paul Biancardi and John Gasaway break down what it all means.
How do Flagg and Duke fit with each other?
You could make a strong case that Mike Krzyzewski and Duke helped introduce positionless basketball to the collegiate landscape. With Christian Laettner in the early 1990s, Coach K had a 6-foot-11 star who made 49% of his 3-point attempts at a time when players that size mostly played around the rim. Grant Hill, similarly, was a 6-8 point forward in the early ’90s long before LeBron James revolutionized the game. Shane Battier, the 2001 Wooden Award winner, could guard all five positions. Marvin Bagley averaged 11.1 RPG during the 2017-18 season and connected on 40% of his 3-point attempts, a rare combo for a 6-11 athlete. The following year, Zion Williamson, who was built like an All-American tight end, did whatever he wanted on the court and never had a true position.
Flagg will be the next versatile star for Duke men’s basketball. Based on team history, he fits perfectly. The program has allowed multiple players with a diverse skill set to use all of their abilities. Jon Scheyer — who was a Duke assistant when Williamson won the Wooden Award in 2019 — won’t hold Flagg back. He’ll allow him to play the way he wants: above the rim, on the perimeter, in space, in transition and anywhere else he desires.
The Duke system is built for Flagg, and vice versa. He just committed to a school with a strong track record of refusing to put players like him in a box. — Myron Medcalf
How does Flagg’s addition affect the Blue Devils’ roster next season?
The 2024-25 roster likely won’t be set for another seven months, but Flagg’s commitment gives Scheyer the nation’s most talented player, an anchor to build around regardless of who else is next to him. The Blue Devils already had two top-25 recruits in the fold in Isaiah Evans and Kon Knueppel, as well as top-50 guard Darren Harris.
On the flip side, they have four players projected by ESPN to be taken in the first 31 picks of the 2024 NBA draft. So the key question really becomes: Who else does Flagg get to play with him in Durham? Top-five prospect V.J. Edgecombe and five-star big man Pat Ngongba visited Duke for Countdown to Craziness with Flagg; will his commitment push either of them to pick the Blue Devils? There are plenty of dominoes still to fall, but any roster with Flagg on it has a chance to be special. — Jeff Borzello
Flagg chose Duke over UConn. What’s next for the Huskies, recruiting-wise?
Realistically UConn knew it was playing from behind in this recruiting race. But essentially, there’s no Plan B when it comes to someone like Flagg.
The Huskies currently have two very strong commitments in their 2024 class: ESPN 100 Ahmad Nowell and ESPN 100 forward Isaiah Abraham. They still could use another perimeter scorer with size, though. Freshman Stephon Castle is likely to be a one-and-done, other newcomers such as Solomon Ball, Jayden Ross and Jaylin Stewart all have potential, and the addition of Nowell and Abraham should certainly help.
But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Dan Hurley hit the portal next spring for one more piece, whether it’s a big perimeter wing who can drive and facilitate like Castle, a point guard or even perhaps another shot maker — similar to how the Huskies landed Rutgers‘ Cam Spencer in the spring when they needed a shooter with experience. — Paul Biancardi
Including Flagg, how do recruiting results early in the Scheyer era compare to what we saw at the end of Coach K’s run?
Duke athletic director Nina King has to be pleased by this surprisingly seamless transition from the Coach K days in terms of talent. Flagg is the latest and perhaps most impressive example of this dynamic.
Purely in terms of recruiting rankings, last year’s Duke class (Dereck Lively II, Dariq Whitehead, Kyle Filipowski, Mark Mitchell and Jaden Schutt) was statistically on par with what Coach K was doing in the mid-2010s, at the peak of the Blue Devils’ one-and-done era. This year’s class (Jared McCain, Sean Stewart, Caleb Foster and TJ Power) continues that look. And now Flagg’s on his way.
Does this kind of success in high school recruiting matter as much in the transfer portal era as it did a decade ago? Times change, but in any era, getting the nation’s No. 1 recruit will be a very good sign. Scheyer has that in Cooper Flagg. — John Gasaway