A new era of Duke men's basketball is on the horizon, and with it comes an almost entirely new roster. In this series, the Blue Zone analyzes film on each of the Blue Devils' new signees and transfers for the 2022-23 season. We previously looked at Kale Catchings, Ryan Young, Jaden Schutt, Mark Mitchell, Dariq Whitehead, Dereck Lively II and Christian Reeves. Next, let’s take a look at Kyle Filipowski:
Kyle Filipowski comes to Durham from Wilbraham and Monson Academy, where he averaged a spectacular 21.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.0 blocks per game in his junior season. After reclassifying from the Class of 2021 to the Class of 2022, Filipowski was ineligible for high school basketball’s highest honor, becoming a McDonald’s All-American, but the rest of his resume more than justifies his ranking as the No. 4-overall recruit on the Top247.
The 6-foot-11 center won gold with the 2021 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 team, and was named the 2021 Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year as a junior. He was also named to the 2022 Naismith National High School Boys Basketball All-America first team, among other accomplishments. These honors come courtesy of Filipowski’s seemingly bottomless bag of scoring tricks. With his height and strong, 220-pound frame, Filipowski can work under the basket with the best of them; there are endless clips of the 18-year-old dunking on unsuspecting opponents and popping in putbacks.
However, Filipowski is uniquely coordinated for a player his size, demonstrating admirable confidence with the ball and quickness getting around defenders. Though 3x3 basketball is a different animal from what he will play at Duke, this clip from the 3x3 U18 World Cup shows how, beyond just his size, Filipowski has natural athleticism to draw on as well.
In a similar vein, the Westtown, N.Y., native has solid handles, allowing him to maneuver through the paint. He can also score off the dribble, allowing him to create an opportunity for himself even without a clear shooting lane. His footwork is well developed, with Filipowski frequently utilizing a variety of spin moves and crossovers to work his way inside for layups and dunks, which you can see in action in the following clip.
In his high school play, Filipowski can often be seen acting as the primary ball handler, and he has the playmaking eye to match. While also able to initiate plays, Filipowski excels at finding tight passing lanes on the fly, drawing defenders’ attention towards himself and leaving a teammate open for an easy basket. While there’s always a chance that a freshman’s scoring decreases once they face higher-level competition, Filipowski’s vision and facilitator qualities make it likely that he can act as a glue and offense generator for a team made of largely new players.
One of the most unique qualities of Filipowski, though, is that he is nearly seven feet tall and can shoot threes. In eight games played last summer for the New York Renaissance on the Nike EYBL circuit, Filipowski shot a staggering 46.2% from three, and in his highlight reels he demonstrated his capability shooting from all zones around the arc, shooting in traffic and shooting pull-up threes. If all else fails Filipowski this year—though it likely won’t—there is not a team in college hoops that would say no to a 6-foot-11 sharpshooter.
Despite distinguishing himself at the high-school level, there are still some questions around Filipowski. Namely, will his abilities translate once he’s regularly facing competition his own size and larger? Or even once the smaller players are quicker and more skilled than anyone he’s played before? Much of what sets him apart from his peers is the various ways he’s able to leverage his size advantage to make room for more skilled plays, and he may lose some of that edge against college-level players.
Despite natural blocking and rebounding instincts, Filipowski’s limited explosiveness, as is common for a player his size, has sparked some defensive concerns. This could constrain him within the Blue Devils’ system, thus stymying the freedom with which he is able to exercise his other tricks. Still, all these questions will be answered once he takes the court for the Blue Devils for the first time this winter, and until then, Duke fans can count on Filipowski bringing to Cameron Indoor Stadium a diverse skill set in a capable package.
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Sasha Richie is a Trinity senior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.