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HILLSIDE, Ill. - The Hillside (Ill.) Proviso West High School basketball gym turned out to be a fitting location to celebrate the success of the Proviso West football team and star receiver Kyle Prater's official nomination to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 9 in San Antonio, Texas.
Proviso West has been the host of arguably the best holiday high school basketball tournament in the nation for the past 49 years. Basketball legends such as Isiah Thomas, Mark Aguire, Glenn 'Doc' Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Derrick Rose, Juwan Howard, Michael Finley and many more have made their names and history in the Proviso West gym.
On Friday afternoon, a gridiron standout was being recognized on the hardwood floor at Proviso West as Prater received his U.S. Army All-American Bowl bid.
Prater, who on Friday afternoon was just hours away from seeing his senior season come to an abrupt end in the IHSA Class 8A state football playoffs, was overwhelmed by the ceremony and being a part of Proviso West history.
"I just never thought something like this would happen to be honest," Prater said. "I'm blessed. We are blessed. This (Army All-American Bowl invite) is amazing, but to also be in the state playoffs and winning a state playoff game with a chance to win another one tonight? People said that you couldn't do things like we've done this year at Proviso West in football. Proviso West never even made the state playoffs in school history until this year. Again, it's all been pretty amazing and I'm just very blessed these days."
When it comes down to his recruiting news these days, the soft verbal commit to USC is more of the silent type.
"The official visit to Illinois went well, but I just haven't been picking up my phone lately because all of my focus and my attention has been on my team. Once the season is over I'll be happy to talk more about my recruiting but for now I just don't have much to say. Once I do have something to say you'll hear about it. It's all about my team these days and less and less about me."
Yet for one day in Hillside in a gym seeping with history and legends, football for once had a few hours to feel pretty special.
And that's historic.