Sunday’s star-studded Empire Invitational pitted two of Duke’s top 2022 recruits against each other in a down-to-the-wire midseason event in New York.
Kyle Filipowski’s Wilbraham & Monson Academy took on Dereck Lively II’s Westtown School at the Major Owens Health & Wellness Community Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. in one of the premier events for high school boys’ basketball.
With Duke’s associate head coach and head coach-in-waiting Jon Scheyer, assistant coach Nolan Smith and director of player development Amile Jefferson in attendance, the two top recruits put on a show for the Duke coaching staff. Matched up against each other for portions of the game, the two starred for their respective teams.
Filipowski’s dominant, MVP-earning outing was capped by a rebound on a potential game-tying 3-point attempt that led to the game-sealing free throws to give Wilbraham & Monson the victory.
The 6-foot-11 Filipowski showed off a solid handle for the ball and passing skills as he frequently took the ball up the court for his team, and he was active on the glass as he totaled 22 points and a handful of rebounds in his team’s 59-54 win. He showcased his basketball IQ as he faced double teams, made cuts and found teammates for open shots. His slow start was overshadowed by his monster second half, in which he scored 18 of his 22 points.
On the other side, Lively had his own solid afternoon, as the center finished with 16 points and two 3-pointers as he was guarded by Filipowski and his Harvard-bound brother, Matt. He looked a bit shaky shooting the ball, but was a force on defense and at the rim as he used his height and 7-foot-8 wingspan to his advantage, finishing alley-oops and blocking shots. Lively, who also scored the vast majority of his points in the second half, was crucial to Westtown’s attempted comeback, but it was too little, too late as Wilbraham & Monson held on to its earlier 12-point lead.
Lively is ranked No. 1 overall and Filipowski is ranked 11th by 247Sports for the 2022 recruiting class, and the two are only a sample of Scheyer’s monster incoming class that also features No. 3 Dariq Whitehead, No. 10 Mark Mitchell, No. 53 Jaden Schutt and unranked Christian Reeves.
Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.