Boyce returns to coach Proviso East

Former Proviso East star Donnie Boyce is returning to his alma mater to be its boys basketball coach.

Proviso East vacated all of its coaching positions following the school year and opened up its search to all applicants. Boyce replaces David Chatman, who has been the Pirates coach since the 2003-2004 season.

Boyce along Michael Finley and Sherell Ford led the Pirates to a state championship in 1991. All three later played in the NBA.

"It's a dream come true to come back to where it all started for me in this basketball world," Boyce said on Monday. "This is a dream job. This is only the high school coaching job I would take. I bleed blue. This is somewhere I definitely want to be for a long time and hopefully bring a lot of winning seasons."

Boyce was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1995 after starring at Colorado. He played two seasons for the Hawks and bounced around other professional leagues for the rest of his career. He retired in 2006.

Boyce has been coaching since the end of his playing career. He spent time as a coach with the NBA D-League's Reno Bighorns, the ABL's Chicago Throwbacks and was an assistant at Triton College last season.

Boyce was partly attracted to the Proviso East position because of the way he saw another former Pirates star give back to the area.

"I grew up on the same block as Doc Rivers," Boyce said. "Watching someone like Doc, a mentor, I've seen some of the things he's done since his playing days to come back and give to the community. I thought this would give me an opportunity to do the same and share my basketball knowledge to the young players."

Boyce was also interested in the position to get Proviso East back to where it once was in the state's basketball community. The Pirates last won a state championship in 1992, a year after Boyce graduated, and haven't been to the state tournament since 1993.

"In my opinion, Proviso East is the Duke of high schools," Boyce said. "It's one of the schools on that level. We have a wealth of talent that comes through the school. I think some of the things that were lacking and some of the reasons we haven't been as successful is because of sacrifice, teamwork and discipline. During those lean years, we were lacking those qualities that made us great.

"Proviso East when I was here helped me so much in my college and pro career. We all learned the true meaning of sacrifice. We all sacrificed our individual games for the team. We had six or seven playing end up playing Division I basketball."

Proviso East is expected to be among the area's top teams next season. The Pirates return a number of players, including Division I prospects Sterling Brown, who is Shannon Brown's younger brother, and Keith Carter.

"I think we have a great chance to compete for a state championship," Boyce said. "If the guys buy into the system and believe in each other, the sky's the limit."