Family Ties: Donovan Clingan is hosting Cooper Flagg on his UConn visit | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / May 20.
  • Family Ties: Donovan Clingan is hosting Cooper Flagg on his UConn visit

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Sophomore big man Donovan Clingan is hosting Cooper Flagg during his official visit to UConn this weekend and the two stars share a family connection as well.

    Their mothers played together in the 1990s on the Maine women’s basketball team under coach Joanne P. McCallie, who led the program to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1995-2000. McCallie later coached at Duke from 2007-20.

    As first reported by ZAGSBLOG, the 6-foot-8, 195-pound Flagg is taking the first of three planned official visits to UConn this weekend. His two other visits are slated for Kansas (Oct. 6-8) and Duke (Oct. 20-22). Ironically, the UConn football team (0-3) is hosting No. 18 Duke (3-0) on Saturday.

    Fresh off winning the program’s fifth NCAA championship in April, UConn coach Dan Hurley and his staff were regular fixtures at Flagg’s games at Peach Jam this summer when he led Maine United to the 16U championship game. Flagg averaged an astonishing 25.4 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 6.8 blocks at Peach Jam.

    Montverde (FL) Academy coach Kevin Boyle, who has coached three No. 1 picks, seven top-3 picks, nine lottery picks, 16 first-round picks and 19 current NBA players, told me Flagg was “unique” among players he’s coached.

    “He’s right up there with anyone [I’ve coached],” Boyle said. “His talent and his versatility makes him very unique. His size, his ability to fill up a stat sheet are incredibly special. He can have 10 points and be very instrumental with a handful of assists and deflections and blocked shots and defending the key player on the other team.

    “He can be such an incredibly valuable player in today’s NBA world because of his versatility that is really unique.”

    Connecticut and Maine are obviously both in New England, so there will be some regional familiarity for Flagg, who recently reclassed to become the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2024. Playing near home is important to Flagg and his family: Kelly Flagg helped arrange for Montverde (FL) Academy to play two games in Maine this coming season on Jan. 5-6.

    Former UConn star Ray Allen told me after watching the Huskies win the national championship that the school was a “basketball kingdom” where players can avoid distractions that can happen at other programs.

    “I can walk down the street, get in the gym and shoot without any distractions along the way, and that’s what I implore every child to think about when they’re picking a school,” Allen said.

    “Make sure you pick somewhere that doesn’t provide excess that keeps you distracted.”

    Three UConn players from last year’s NCAA championship team went to the NBA, while two more — Clingan and freshman guard Stephon Castle — are projected Top 5 picks in next year’s draft, according to a CBS Sports Big Board.

    Hurley was in the Green Room at Barclays Center in June when Jordan Hawkins and Andre Jackson Jr. were drafted, and he knows that his roster features other NBA prospects going forward.

    “Everyone seems to think so,” Hurley said on Draft night. “And they look like it the way they’re practicing.”

    Flagg is the projected No. 1 pick in 2025, according to one mock draft.

    And Hurley and his staff surely would love to add his picture to the wall depicting all of UConn’s lottery picks.

    It would be something if that wall someday featured both Clingan and Flagg.

    **For more on Donovan Clingan, check out my New York Times feature on him from earlier this year.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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