TRENDING: Duke basketball star receives 2024 Tudor Award for media cooperation

Kyle Filipowski did not speak to the media following the now-famous court storming against Wake Forest, as is customary for an injured player anywhere, not just Duke. After his teammates spoke, the traveling media exited the hallway outside the visiting locker room to attend Steve Forbes’ news conference. When Filipowski walked out and saw Duke sports information officials Kyle Serba and Henry Skutt, he asked where the media had gone. He then urged them to bring everyone back.

Duke's Kyle Filipowski appears to stick leg out, trip UNC player: 'Shades  of Grayson Allen' | Fox News

“I want to talk about what happened,” Filipowski stated. And he did so for about three minutes. It would have been easy for him to get to the bus and leave the discussion of what happened on the court for another day, but Filipowski wanted to deal with it now.

“Obviously that was a big event, what happened, not just for the game but for college basketball itself as a whole,” Filipowski went on to say. “With something like that happening, I’m sure there were a lot of questions, and it was all over the news for a few days. “I just felt it was my responsibility to tell my side of the story.” That was consistent with Filipowski’s interactions with the media during his two seasons at Duke. Filipowski, an engaging, thoughtful, and ready conversationalist, is this season’s winner of the Caulton Tudor Award, named for the late News & Observer sports columnist, which honors the Triangle basketball player who is most cooperative with the local media.

Filipowski joins former Duke men’s players Matt Jones (2017) and Jack White (2020) as recipients of the honor, which is chosen by the N&O staff with assistance from other Triangle media members and presented by Tobacco Road Sports Cafe. Jarkel Joiner of North Carolina State was the winner last season.

From the beginning of his freshman year, when Filipowski agreeably fielded questions about sharing time with another heavily recruited big man in Dereck Lively, to getting hit in the throat at Virginia Tech, to last season’s debacle at Virginia, when Filipowski went scoreless in a loss decided by an officiating error, he has been unfailingly honest and available.

“After tough situations like that, especially losses, you can be like, ‘Forget this, I just want to get my stuff and go,'” Filipowski went on to say. “Sometimes talking about it helps me see the bright side. After a bad game or a loss, there are many positive things to think on and how we can improve. “It definitely helps me clear my mind.” Filipowski could have avoided the media in Charlottesville, just as he did in Wake Forest. Instead, he spent time at his locker talking with Steve Wiseman of the New York Times and Brendan Marks of The Athletic. And on Saturday, following a heartbreaking loss to North Carolina, he gently explained his side of the tripping incident with Harrison Ingram.
“In all those instances, players normally aren’t available,” Wiseman went on to say. “But he felt it was important to speak to us.” It was a golden year for media-friendly basketball players in the Triangle, from N.C. State veteran Casey Morsell to North Carolina women’s teammate Alyssa Ustby to 2022 Tudor Award winner Armando Bacot, who took time to thank the media after his final home game at the Smith Center last week.

“I’m just so thankful, I mean, even for you guys,” Bacot went on to say. “Throughout the terrible times and the excellent teams, you’ve always been professional and believed in us and whatever you did. I’m going to miss this part, too. Just being able to see all of your faces while we travel.”

Basketball players in the Triangle have the opportunity to form these kind of relationships thanks to the significant media attention and open locker rooms following men’s home games at Duke and North Carolina State. (North Carolina brings many players to a lounge at the Smith Center, which is the next best thing.) That is unusual in college basketball, when players’ access to other teams is frequently restricted. But all three schools have realized that it’s excellent preparation, not only for the ACC and NCAA tournaments, where all locker rooms are open to the media, but also for the next steps in life — whether that’s in the NBA or going pro in something other than sports, as the infamous NCAA commercial suggests.

“Coming into college, I wasn’t the greatest with interviews,” Filipowski admitted. “I mean, while I had a lot of experience in my final year of high school, I wasn’t the best. I was still a stutterer, a little nervous, and trying to think of the ideal answer. Kind of like a robot. But training with you guys and talking after games helped me get a lot more comfortable and free-flowing.”

At its finest, particularly in this market, it should be a two-way street. When players feel comfortable being open and honest, their stories are simpler to tell. When this happens, everyone wins.

CAULTON TUDOR AWARD WINNERS:  2015 Ralston Turner, North Carolina State 2016. Marcus Paige, UNC, 2017 Matt Jones and Duke 2018 Theo Pinson, UNC 2019 Torin Dorn, North Carolina State 2020. Jack White and Duke 2021 Elissa Cunane, NC State 2022 Armando Bacot, UNC 2023. Jarkel Joiner, North Carolina State 2024. Kyle Filipowski, Duke

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