Two Amigos return to lead Proviso East

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Former Proviso East star Donnie Boyce (far left) has returned to coach his alma mater. | Steve Johnston~For Sun-Times Media

Donnie Boyce had a special visitor at one of his recent practices as first year boys basketball coach at Proviso East.

Boyce’s former coach, Bill Hitt (pictured, right) , who led Boyce and his teammates Sherell Ford and Michael Finley — the Three Amigos — to the 1991 Class AA state championship, arrived at one of Proviso East’s practices to check on one of his former players. Actually, two of his former players.

“Some of the drills we run are the same that we used to run. We got that from coach Hitt,” Boyce said.

When Boyce succeeded David Chatman as the new basketball coach of his alma mater, one of Boyce’s first calls was to Ford. Boyce tried to get the old band back together. Ford ended his professional career after playing in Argentina last season to rejoin Boyce back at Proviso East. Ford has returned as a freshman coach, but was on the varsity bench Dec. 16 for Proviso East’s 74-58 West Suburban Gold victory at Hinsdale South. The two consult regularly with Finley, who is trying to rekindle his playing career after his last NBA stop was with the Celtics two years ago.

Finley (pictured, right) was in town recently and attended Proviso East’s 88-64 victory over Addison Trail Dec. 9 in Maywood.

The No. 2 Pirates (7-0, 2-0) open the Proviso West Holiday tournament at 7 p.m. Dec. 27 against Brooks. The winner plays St. Joseph or Benet at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 28. All three of Proviso East’s Amigos and Hitt were named to the Proviso West All-Time All-Tournament team last season.

Boyce and Ford were recently featured in a Comcast SportsNet Chicago report:

Boyce, 38, coached last season as an assitant at Triton College. He spent two years before that as an assistant with the Reno (Nev.) Bighorns in the NBA Development League learning from head coach Jay Humphries, a fellow Colorado product. After playing at Colorado, Boyce played two years with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks before playing in the CBA, France and in Argentina. His last team was the CBA’s Albany Patroons in 2006.

“At first, I couldn’t believe I had this opportunity,” Boyce said. “At our first practice, it was an open gym, I was trying to believe what an opportunity I had in front of me.”

Boyce has been handed the keys to a Ferrari with starters such as Saint Louis-bound guard Keith Carter, Trashaun Carroll, top junior Sterling Brown and point guard Paris Lee. Curie transfer Paris Burns scored a season-high 30 points in a 74-58 win at Hinsdale South Dec. 16. The Pirates might be the only threat to depose defending Class 4A state champion and top-ranked Simeon.

Ford ended his international playing career after six years with eight different teams. He was drafted by the Sonics, played for one NBA season and then played for three different CBA teams.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Ford said. “It was a little weird [at first], but we’re trying to bring back that Proviso East spirit.”

Boyce and Ford

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