NEW CARLISLE — It was a challenging, yet productive basketball offseason at the same time for Braydon Flagg.
The New Prairie 6-foot-4 junior guard/forward tore a ligament in his left ankle and severely sprained it in late July. That kept him off the court for roughly a month, but he did other activities to prepare for the season instead. Still, the injury involved another month of therapy, though he made a relative quick recovery.
"It was tough," Flagg said. "It was really boring, especially when basketball was right around the corner. I've never been hurt. My sister has multiple times and she always seems pretty bummed because she knows she's not going to be able to do anything. That was my first time going through that. It was eye opening a little bit."
Flagg added his injury is good now.
He also recognized the significance of cherishing his time on the court knowing he was hurt.
"It shows how much you really love the game," Flagg added.
While his injury put a crimp in his offseason, Flagg was still able to have a somewhat constructive summer. Flagg played AAU basketball on an MBA Select team, based out of South Bend, and he played on the Adidas Gauntlet and traveled throughout the country.
He said the elite competition benefited him tremendously.
"There were just a lot of good players we played against," Flagg said. "So that just helped me to see where I stand against everyone else."
At the same time, Flagg feels AAU basketball aided his development in terms of his vision on the floor and facing premier players.
"Seeing the court better and analyzing things," he said. "Here in high school sometimes you don't get the biggest athletes who can run and jump, but it helped me with getting to the basket and knowing how to finish well, and moving your body around."
It was Flagg's second summer playing on this same AAU team, however, it was his first time playing on the Adidas Gauntlet.
Fast forward to the present, and Flagg is hopeful the Cougars can rebound after a disappointing 7-16 season last year. He realizes that each player on the squad must perform their duty in order for New Prairie to function at a high level.
“The guys who have been playing have to keep playing their spots, know their roles, bbecause they're good at that,” Flagg said. “And the young guys really have to step up, because we can't really afford to have a slow start. We have to get into a groove with things right away.”
First-year New Prairie coach Mike Bauer has only been around Flagg a handful of months, but he's already seen his passion for the game and his flexibility as a player.
“He loves basketball, that's part of it,” Bauer said. “He's always one of the first guys in the gym. He's just extremely versatile. He's a long guard. He can drive. He can shoot. He can post. He can defend. He's an extremely versatile player, just does everything really well. He has a great attitude about the game.”
A season ago, Flagg tallied 7.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game for New Prairie.
He's striving to make more of a difference this campaign, first and foremost with scoring, in addition to playing stingy defense.
“I want to be a main scorer of the team, but I also want to be able to have a defensive role,” Flagg said. “I want to show everyone else what we can do. I'm just really excited for this year. We've got really good athletes and we'll be a lot better than last year.”
In terms of extracurricular activities, Flagg is involved in HOSA, an international student health organization which holds competitions that he studies for. He also takes pictures of certain medical conditions and shadows medical personnel to see what interests him. Flagg said he would like to have a career in the medical profession, so this organization allows him to prepare for that future.
Off the floor, Flagg is a dependable student. He currently has a strong 3.8 grade point average and he's enrolled in two Advanced Placement classes, AP U.S. History and AP Biology.
The impact of schoolwork isn't lost on Flagg.
“Academics is really important to me,” he said. “When I'm choosing a college, everything I look at first is, 'Do they have my major or not?' Because at the end of the day, your job is going to take you further. If you get hurt, what are you going to do?”
Bauer has also taken notice of Flagg's demeanor away from the sport.
“He's great,” Bauer said. “I like the kids I can be sarcastic with and they get it. Things just kind of roll off his shoulders. He interacts very well with adults and with his teammates. He's a fun kid to be around.”
Following his prep career, Flagg is aiming to play college basketball. He's primarily looking at Bethel University right now, though he added he's gotten information from other schools.
Flagg's current focus is on the Cougars, however, and he's poised to pace them to new heights, including a possible sectional title.
“It would mean a lot,” Flagg said. “I know New Prairie basketball hasn't seen success in the postseason in a while, so I really want to help deliver that this year.”