Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Player Feature: Kyler Filewich

Player Feature: Kyler Filewich

Jr Bison Boys Basketball Club

Kyler Filewich (2001 Jr Bison Boys) has dedicated years driving his way to the top ranks of the province’s basketball elite. The sought-after Canadian prospect — who began playing community club basketball in Grade 3 — is now heading into his final year of high school, and his senior season with the Jr Bison Boys Basketball Club. Keeping his eyes on the ball — and on his future — he is excited for what comes next.

“It feels (really) good to have come this far,” says the 6’8” forward. “I am super excited about the future.”

A powerhouse player with serious interest from both Canadian and American universities and colleges, Filewich says a lot of different factors have contributed to his success: the coaches he has had, the teams he has played on, and his steadfast dedication to keep getting better.

Filewich — who has played with the Jr Bison Boys Basketball Club since Grade 7 — says his Jr Bison team “is like family.”  “My team has been together for years and we know each other really well,” he says. “The Junior Bison program attracts a lot of the best players — it is an elite club.”

He also credits both his school and club coaches for the impact they have made: Vincent Massey Collegiate’s Nick Lother, A.A. Leach’s Adrian Jordan, and his mom — Arlyn Filewich, a former University of Manitoba Bisons women’s team player and captain and two-time provincial team MVP — who has been the coach of his 2001 Jr Bison Boys Basketball team for the past five years.

"It is nice to have her as a coach because we get to enjoy the game together,” Filewich says. “She has taught me a lot and she has the same tenacity that I have.” 

And, he adds, “She hates to lose, too.”

The 245 lb player is known for his physical dominance on the court. 

"Kyler adds size and a physical presence that requires everyone around him to be on their toes. He has an extremely high compete level which raises the intensity of games and practices,” says his mom/coach.   “In games he demands attention from the other team’s defence,” she says, “so it has become important for our team to put the ball in to him and then be ready for the open shot when he kicks it back out.”

Growing up, Filewich was a multi-sport player who liked hockey, soccer, swimming and basketball. Now his primarily focuses are basketball and football.  “I like basketball because it is challenging and requires a lot of different skills,” he says. “The fast pace makes it really fun to play.”

Despite his size and skill, he had challenges to overcome, including getting cut from the Centre for Performance in Grade 7. He says that experience pushed him even harder to put in the long hours that have helped with his success.  “(Being cut) motivated me to work extra hard to achieve my goals,” he says.

Not only has Filewich put in countless hours on the court, he also credits the hours off the court with helping him hone a deeper understanding of the game.  “I have learned a lot from watching the game, reading about it and listening to others,” he says, “(from) parents, coaches and commentators.”

Basketball has taken Filewich to high-level tournaments throughout Canada and the U.S.; he played on the Manitoba provincial basketball team for four years in a row, and spent two years in Toronto with Under Armour’s Canada Elite prep team. 

Filewich’s personal highlights so far include winning the Junior High Provincials in Grade 8 for A.A. Leach; playing in the National Championships and Canada Summer Games and being picked to play in the Bio Steel Future All-Canadians All-Star Game in 2017.  He was also recognized as the top high school athlete in Winnipeg in a poll of local coaches — when he was in Grade 11. Despite already having so much success, he keeps pushing himself to get even better.

“I probably played one of my best games in Kelowna,” he says of the recent Western Canadian Basketball Tournament where he scored 36 points, had 25 rebounds, and 8 assists in one game.

Even though he had chances to go out-of-province for Grade 12, he felt it was more important to stay in Manitoba and concentrate on both sport and academic achievements at the same time.  “I would like to win two provincial championships; one in basketball and one in football,” says the student-athlete, who also has an 88% academic average. “Academics is extremely important this year as I am looking to receive academic scholarships to go along with an athletic scholarship.”

The student-athlete already has offers for both basketball and football from North Dakota and the University of Manitoba under his belt. More offers are expected from universities in both Canada and the United States that will make the 17 year olds’ decision a tough — but exciting — one.  “It is great to potentially play two sports at the college level.”

He sees himself playing professionally, whether it be basketball or football.

“I would love to be able to play basketball or football at the pro level,” he says, “And I would love to be able to play for Canada someday.” And his game-plan doesn’t end there: “I plan to take business and then law in university and would love to be a player agent.”

The veteran Jr Bisons player knows that with skill and unlimited dedication, the sky is the limit.

To the younger basketball players coming through the ranks, he offers this advice: “You are only going to be better if you put in the time; always give a full effort in practice, play outside on the street, go the gym and put up shots,” he says.  “People think I am good because of my size, but what they don’t see or realize is all of the extra hours outside of team practices that I have committed to my game.”