Duke forward Kyle Filipowski announced Tuesday that he is returning to Duke for his sophomore season after leading the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding as a freshman. The former five-star prospect earned ACC Freshman of the Year honors after helping lead the Blue Devils to an ACC Tournament title and No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament during coach Jon Scheyer's first season leading the program.
"Being at Duke this past year has been such a blessing. This team, this place, the Crazies, has been incredible," Filipowski said on Twitter. "I know you're wondering what comes next. When I committed here, I said I wanted to help continue the Duke legacy. I said I wanted to help Coach Scheyer build a foundation. I said I wanted to leave a legacy of my own. I meant what I said. I'm not done yet. See you next year."
Though he was rated just the third-best prospect in Duke's heralded 2022 signing class, the versatile 6-foot-11 big man proved to be the most college-ready player of the group. Filipowski racked up 16 double-doubles as a freshman while alternating between power forward and center on a team that also featured 7-foot center Dereck Lively II.
His decision brings a boost to the team's 2023-24 outlook after it appeared that Filipowski could be in the mix to be selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. The Blue Devils ranked No. 7 in the as of Monday.
Impact on Duke
Among ACC freshmen, only Syracuse guard Judah Mintz scored more points per game (16.3) than Filipowski, who averaged 15.1. Filipowski also ranked first in the conference in rebounding among freshmen at nine boards per contest. He finished the season rating as Duke's best defensive player, according to evanmiya.com. Getting a player back with that type of all-around impact in the frontcourt will make Duke a popular preseason pick to win the ACC
Fellow members of Duke's 2022 recruiting class Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II have declared for the NBA Draft. So, too, has point guard Jeremy Roach, though Roach left the door open for a return next season. As it pertains to Filipowski, the departure of Lively is a significant domino because it means that Filipowski can play more at the five next season instead of slotting in at power forward.
The nation's No. 2 recruiting class is on the way with five freshmen all considered five-star prospects or better. But none of them are projected as centers. Barring the addition of a touted transfer at the position, Filipowski would slot in as the starting five, though his versatility and ability to flex out onto the perimeter will remain an asset for Scheyer.
Kyle Filipowski's draft decision
"Filipowski is a 6-11 big who is an elite rebounder and comfortable 3-point shooter," Parrish wrote. "At this point, he's the best NBA prospect in Duke's top-ranked recruiting class."
Alas, the Blue Devils will have another season to build out Filipowski's game even further, potentially sending his projection soaring into lottery range for the 2024 draft class.
Though labeled as a center as a high school prospect, Filipowski proved his chops as a versatile two-way player with surprising competence in situations when he was required to defend smaller forwards and wings as a freshman. That is one of the attributes that will make him a viable pro prospect, regardless of when he ultimately declares for the draft.