Lakota West’s Prohaska named to U-17 national team

Abby Prohaska has performed on a big stage before while helping the Lakota West High School girls basketball team to a state title in 2015.

But nothing comes close to what she is about to experience.

The rising junior guard was one of 12 players named to the USA Women’s Basketball U-17 national team following a week of tryouts in Colorado Springs. She leaves for training camp Thursday in preparation for the FIBA U-17 World Championships, which will be played June 22-July 2 in Zaragoza, Spain.

“It means more than I can even put into words,” Prohaska said. “It’s awesome and super humbling just knowing I’m representing my country with 11 others. It’s amazing.”

Prohaska had tried out for Team USA last year and said she was surprised when she made the “final 40” cut. That was as far as she went in her first attempt at making the team, but the experience helped her come back with more confidence this year.

Tryouts began May 26, and by the morning of May 29, she was told she was back among the final 40 players in the field. The next evening, she learned she was one of the 18 finalists, and on Thursday evening, Prohaska found out she made the team.

“I was speechless,” she said. “I was shaking for a while afterwards too because I felt like I was in someone else’s shoes, but it was a huge accomplishment.”

West coach Andy Fishman said it “is a special opportunity that is well-deserved.” Prohaska is the first Lakota West player to make the national team, though others have made it deep into the process.

“I believe she gets better with a larger sample size,” Fishman said. “It’s the same thing here, you start seeing things from her the first few days and wonder, ‘Can she keep up this pace?’ Then, it’s, ‘Woah, she’s doing it again and again.’ Every day, while other players start to falter and welter, she continues to do her thing. That’s something that helps set her apart. She’s relentless and consistent.”

The 16-year-old Prohaska has been a key piece to the Firebirds’ success the past two years, working her way into the starting lineup as a freshman. She averaged 7.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game this past season as a sophomore, despite missing nine of the first 13 games because of a foot injury.

Fishman said she is “constantly working on her game,” and in the two years he’s coached her, she has become a better ball handler and a better mid- and long-range shooter, which likely was noticed by the Team USA coaching staff.

Prohaska said the biggest thing she tried to show the coaches was that she could be a good teammate.

“Going in, I just knew I had to control all the controllables, and I couldn’t dwell on a mistake or hang my head,” she said. “I just tried to make sure that I shared the court with four other people and that it wasn’t just me with the ball. You’ve got to pass, you’ve got to share the ball, you’ve got to encourage. I think that was a huge thing for me to show.”

Now, she looks forward to seeing how the team builds chemistry in the short time before the World Championships. Training camp ends June 15, and the team will get some practice games in France before heading to Spain for the tournament.

“It’s going to be a different experience,” said Prohaska, who studies Spanish in school. “I’ve never personally gotten out of the United States, so it’s going to be overwhelming, I feel, for the first time, and being plastered with USA gear, I think it will draw some attention, but I’m excited.”

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