Kyle Filipowski Eager to Show Off Modern Skill Set at Nike Hoop Summit
When the USA team takes the court at this year’s Nike Hoop Summit, Kyle Filipowski will be one of the most unique prospects there.
The 18-year-old from Slate Hill, New York, is a modern power forward. He can shoot from the perimeter and score inside. He rebounds, passes, runs the court and even sometimes leads the break.
“I really don’t think I’d compare myself to anyone else in the country — high school, college or NBA level,” said the 6-foot-11-inch Filipowski. “I just think my game is bits and pieces of a bunch of different players. I think that’s what makes me so unique.”
Filipowski studies Olympic gold medalists and NBA stars such as Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant, two of the most complete forwards in the world. And his hard work has paid off, as Filipowski was one of 12 players selected to compete for USA Basketball at the prestigious Nike Hoop Summit on April 8 in Portland, Oregon, against a team of international prospects.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to wear the three letters across my chest and to represent my country the right way, playing for that gold standard, and just having an opportunity to set an example for everyone in the country,” Filipowski said. “I always try to make the most of my opportunities because you never know when you’re going to get another one.”
That said, this is the second opportunity for Filipowski, who represented the U.S. at last year’s FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup in Hungary. The Americans won gold by going 6-0 in that event.
“That was the first time I’d ever been out of the country,” Filipowski said. “It was great playing with other guys who are at the highest level and being able to play for my country and to see guys from all over the world. It was really cool to experience.”
More recently, Filipowski led Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Massachussets, to a 24-3 record this past season. Even though the team lost in the semifinals of the state playoffs and then in the quarterfinals of the National Prep Championship, Filipowski had nothing but great things to say about his final high school season.
“This was the most fun I’ve had playing basketball in a long time,” he said. “We all got along tremendously. We had a fun bunch, on and off the court. We pushed each other every day, and we made some great memories.”
On a personal level, Filipowski averaged a double-double and showed off his ability to serve as one of the squad’s veteran voices.
“I feel like I did my job as the team leader,” he said. “Getting everyone involved, on the same page, taking care of issues if they ever came along. This was the first year I had to focus on that. In the beginning of the year, I struggled with that a little bit, but then I became a really good leader.”
Filipowski credits coach Michael Mannix for facilitating his progress as a team leader, as Mannix regularly gave his star forward tips on how to handle certain situations. He stressed to Filipowski, among other things, that different players require different types of motivation tactics. Certain guys respond to yelling and criticism, while others fare better with support and encouragement.
In fact, Filipowski experienced that first-hand as a young player.
“Growing up, for a while, I was very weak-minded,” he said. “I would take things to heart. When a coach would give me constructive criticism, I would have breakdowns if things weren’t going well. That’s something I had to learn. I now think basketball is more about your mentality than the physicality of the game.”
While team leader is a role that Filipowski enjoys, he admits it’s been years in the making.
“Over the years, I’ve slowly been trying to take more of a leadership role because I know I’m usually the best or one of the best players on the court,” he said. “So besides playing the game, I realized I also need to start being more vocal. But coach Mannix also taught me that guys will do what I do, not what I say. So that’s a big part of it too.”
It’s a mindset that Filipowski plans to bring with him when he begins playing for Duke University in the fall.
“The opportunity is going to be there for me to be a leader. That’s why I was so focused on it this year, because I know that’s an opportunity next year as well,” Filipowski said. “I realize someone is going to have to step up and be a vocal leader (at Duke) to keep guys focused. So, it’s a big opportunity to play a lot of minutes right off the bat. I’m looking forward to it.”
And why is he so eager to shoulder that responsibility?
“I want to be one of the best to ever go through Duke,” he said.
Naturally, he was glued to the TV during the NCAA Tournament, watching every step of the way as the Blue Devils advanced to the Final Four in Mike Krzyzewski’s final season as Duke’s coach.
“I’ve always dreamed of winning March Madness,” Filipowski said. “Just knowing that I’m going to be in that position next year and it’s all up for grabs, it’s a little mind-blowing. I couldn’t be happier with the position I’m being put in, but I know I’ve still got more to accomplish. These have only been baby steps for what’s to come.”