The Duke faithful have to wait another year to see him play in a Blue Devil uniform, but Kyle Filipowski’s commitment is as official as it can be barring him signing his letter of intent.
Filipowski, a 6-foot-10 combo forward out of New York, was the first player to commit to Duke knowing that head coach Mike Krzyzewski will not be at the helm when his freshman season comes around. Nonetheless, Filipowski is eager to get to Durham, and will bring a versatile skill set to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“I’m never gonna settle. I’m never gonna be satisfied,” Filipowski told The Chronicle. “I always want to make a name for myself and try to be different and just be unique, have a special relationship with the guys—have fun with them but also have that winning mentality and really make something special at Duke.”
Mike Mannix, Filipowski’s high school head coach at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, and Andy Borman, a Duke men's basketball alum and executive director of the New York RENS, Filipowski’s AAU team, had the same bottom line about Filipowski: he wants to win.
“Kyle’s not a guy that cares about his statline. Kyle’s a guy that cares about winning,” Borman said in an interview with The Chronicle. According to Borman, Filipowski is a player who plays better when he’s surrounded by other elite players, and that’s not something that’s always true.
“He loves to win and when he doesn’t win, he takes it to heart and it’s more motivation,” Mannix told The Chronicle. “When he does win, he doesn’t get complacent.”
His Twitter banner has a graphic featuring a quote from the late Kobe Bryant that reads “Everything negative—pressure, challenges—is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
“With all the bad in life—just in basketball and outside of basketball [in] life itself—all the bad, the difficult challenges, the conflicts, a lot of people usually shut down and shy away from those things,” Filipowski said. “But I tend to try to face them head on [and] look at it as an opportunity for me to persevere through those challenges.”
Filipowski has always been tall, but it’s always felt natural for him to incorporate more to his game than just the skills that a traditional 6-foot-10 power forward normally does. When he grew even more and it got harder to keep up his guard skills, he put in extra work because he felt that being versatile was important.
“I’ve said tongue in cheek, show me another frontcourt player in the country or a combo forward in the country that can average 13 rebounds and handle the ball like he does,” Mannix said. “And then shoot 39 percent from three.
Filipowski isn’t the only 2022 recruit to have faith in incoming head coach Jon Scheyer either. Shortly after his commitment, No. 4 recruit Dariq Whitehead announced he would don the blue and white as well. The two have chemistry from some AAU days as elementary and middle schoolers, and they’ve already started talking about how to bring others to Durham.
They’ve both got to get their high school diplomas first, but Filipowski has his vision for the first year. And it includes gunning for a national championship.
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“Even though it’s my freshman year, I’m not settling for anything. I’m going big right away.”
Max Rego contributed reporting to this article.
Jake Piazza is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.