Updated: Jun 11, 2022
When Mike Krzyzewski announced his farewell season on June 2, 2021, it was natural to wonder what was next in line for the Duke Basketball program. With Jon Scheyer set to take the helm, he has major shoes to fill in not only college basketball success, but in recruiting NBA-level talent. At the end of July, Kyle Filipowski became the first domino in what is shaping up to be the nation’s top recruiting class in the class of 2022.
While Filipowski’s play at Wilbraham & Monson had him in the general consciousness of the recruiting world, his play in multiple tournaments and in the EYBL with the NY Renaissance shot him up to five-star status in recent months. At 7-feet with a tremendous inside-out scoring package, he is now considered a mortal lock for postseason all-star games. Duke may be going through a major change in regime, however, they definitely will maintain their level of competitiveness in 2021-22 with Kyle Filipowski adding his scoring acumen, playmaking and court sense.
In this interview, Kyle Filipowski sat down with Pro Insight Director of Scouting Andrew Slater to discuss his growth over the last few years, his relationship with fellow Duke recruits, his time with USA Basketball, his goals for his senior year, his time at Wilbraham & Monson, his family life, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Kyle Filipowski, from Westtown, New York:
Pro Insight: Can you touch on your growth as a player?
Kyle Filipowski: This year, I’ve just been focusing on getting my body right, trying to get in the best shape possible for next year when I get to Duke. I think that’s one of the biggest things I’ve got to focus on is just getting a lot more mobile and a lot stronger. Other than that, I’m just working on all aspects of my game, getting my shot more consistent, getting my handle tighter. That’s really what I’ve been focusing on, growing this year.
PI: Maybe you can take it back a little bit to the initial public school or Fordham Prep to now. It’s kind of amazing.
KF: I know.
PI: It’s inspirational to somebody else.
KF: I know. My going from public school to Fordham Prep, I really just didn’t know…I mean, I had dreams and aspirations of playing at the highest level, but I didn’t know my potential, so I’ve just been taking it year by year. I’m still waiting to grow a little bit more and develop into my body. I was just kind of playing the game of basketball and taking things step by step. Then, once I got here, my first year here, that was really my breakout year, my sophomore year.
PI: I remember you had credited Coach Mannix.
KF: Yeah, cause he just put me in great opportunities with players to succeed, with a key role on the team and a chance to win the championship. I really think that was the year I took off and then I started realizing my potential. That really got me focused on what I had to work on and get to the next level.
PI: Was there a turning point within that year? He was saying right out of the box, you were getting twenty-seven or twenty-two.
KF: Yeah, my first game I had twenty-five points and twenty-two rebounds. I don’t know what it was.
PI: Beginner’s luck?
KF: Right. But it really just kept like that. The only thing I can credit to that is that Coach Mannix put me in the right position with my teammates and I just kind of steadied and grew throughout the year.
PI: How big were you when you got here?
KF: When I got here, I was 6’8”, 185. I had a lot of growing, still.
PI: It seems like today, you’re a more vocal leader. Touch on that issue.
KF: Yeah, absolutely. That’s one thing I’m working on with the team this year, too. I’m still trying to learn in any way possible, cause now I’m the oldest guy on the team. I’ve got to lead by example and represent the right way. Set a tone for the rest of the guys. That also starts with me being a more vocal leader. That’s one thing I’m trying to improve on a lot. I want to be a really good leader for the guys.
PI: I’ll give you credit also for the Rens. I thought you really took on that role, which most big guys don’t.
KF: Yeah, without a doubt. With the Rens, it’s a great bunch of guys. The opportunity was there to take a stand, to say something, and the guys, we just all get along. Everyone just started buying into what the vision was and listening to what everyone had to say.
PI: When did you guys realize you could really theoretically win it all? April?
KF: Yeah, right around when we first started playing our first tournament. Our first tournament was in April, I think. So, we saw the potential we had and we knew we didn’t have five stars, we had ten stars. That’s how deep we were. It was just unfortunate what happened at Peach Jam.
PI: I really do believe you guys would have won the whole thing if not for health. Can you touch on your relationship with Dariq Whitehead?
KF: I’ve known him since we were little kids. I think our first AAU team together was in fourth grade and we stuck around together till seventh grade. Oh no, fifth grade till seventh grade. So, I’ve known him since we were little kids.
PI: How on earth did that happen?
KF: I know.
PI: It’s staggering odds.
KF: Yeah, I know.
PI: What was the name of the team you played on?
KF: We played on a couple: Playtime Panthers in New Jersey and Court Masters Elite.
PI: People will go back and look for a picture. It’s staggering.
KF: Without a doubt.
PI: The other one was Dereck Lively. When did you guys first meet? How did you navigate that whole relationship?
KF: I think the first time we met was when we played one another, Rens against Final in Albany. That was the first time we really met in person and the next time we saw one another was on the visit. We were already talking via text, just getting to know one another. It just kept going from there between me and him. We knew how good each of us was and the different players we were.
PI: That’s the thing. People put you all together like you’re in one box, but you’re not.
KF: I think it would shock everyone next year when we have one of the best, if not the best, frontcourts.
PI: Right, kind of frightening.
KF: Right, so I’m looking forward to shocking people.
PI: For fans who may not know their games, can you describe what they bring?
KF: Dariq, he’s a lockdown defender. He’s one of the best defenders in the country. Great dude. Plays very well. Is unselfish. Can really knock down the threes. Very versatile and athletic. And with Dereck, he runs the floor extremely well. He’s a huge shot-block defender and rim defender and can finish anything. He can get the ball from anywhere on the court. He’s starting to knock down that three too, which is very impressive.
PI: Kind of like you in that respect.
PI: And as a passer.
KF: Yeah, he’s starting to develop as a passer extremely well. It’s going to be a scary sight.
PI: Let me get to the Peach Jam. You guys were killing it until you got sick.
KF: Right, and we made it to the semis.