Bay Area kids hit the basketball courts in community mentoring program

Every afternoon, the basketball courts at the University Area Community Center are bustling with activity. Tampa Bay area kids are participating in the Community Mentoring Through Basketball program. 

"The goal of this place is to service the community, give back to the community, help kids in this town in regards to athletics, various different things to give them a safe haven to play and operate under supervision," said Brian Turner, the University Area Community Center's basketball coordinator. 

Around 20-40 kids, with different levels of experience, participate. After warming up, they do various drills and then will scrimmage. 

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"The best part is watching kids enjoy themselves and actually watching them get better," Turner said.

The basketball program is part of the University Area Community Development Corporation’s (University Area CDC) broader goal to empower the community around the campus of the University of South Florida. 

"We do a lot of mentorship in here, so not only as basketball players, but just kids that are learning right from wrong," Turner said. "Just being very consistent in the message, sportsmanship, fundamentals."

The University Area CDC started in 1998, with the complex opening two years later. Other youth programs include dancing, swimming and football. The University Area CDC also helps with affordable housing, health care and job placement. 

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Turner said it’s important for the kids to understand that the basketball program is a privilege.

"Understanding that this is a place that's giving back, respect it," he said. 

Turner said his favorite part is watching the growth of kids who come back every year. 

"I've seen some kids come in at seven. By the time they're 13, they got their fundamentals down. Their respect level has changed and the way they handle criticism," he said. "It's just a joy to watch a flower blossom."

For more information on the University Area CDC, visit


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