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      Columbia scores semi-professional basketball team

      COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - Minor league baseball isn't the only professional sport coming to the capital city. A semi-professional basketball team will kick off its season this summer.

      "I come up from a basketball family," said Kristen Dickerson, owner of the Columbia Crusaders.

      The 22-year-old graduate and former Francis Marion basketball player, and basketball coach for Ben Lippen High School says the Columbia Crusaders was formed after noticing a shortage of professional athletic organizations for college graduates.

      "Having an opportunity like this is not only a great opportunity for the community and the city, but for our local players who do not really have anything to do once they graduate," said Dickerson. The crusaders are a part of the Community Basketball League organization, which Dickerson tells WACH Fox that being community driven is one highlight of the season.

      "The biggest thing to me is giving back to the community," said Dickerson. "Giving back to these guys, giving them the opportunity to do something positive in their community, and giving back to a community that has already given so much to me."

      The semi-professional team is coached by former gamecock basketball player, Allen Franklin, and made up of 14 players.

      "It's good to be back here coaching," said Franklin. "We want this to be a community team. We use the word family a lot. We used the word commitment a lot in our coaching, and that's the way we want to think of it. We want to think of the city of Columbia as our family and the team as one big family."

      Some of the players are from the Midlands area. Anton Greer, a native of Columbia, played basketball at Irmo High School and furthered his basketball career by playing for the Benedict Tigers. Greer says on his home turf as a professional basketball player will be a dream come true.

      "It means the world to me. Everybody who knows me knows I love the kids. It's a good opportunity to give back to them and let them see basketball the way it's supposed to be played for the fans and for the families," said Greer.

      "When we're talking about getting out to the community, we're talking about through all ages but this is really for the kids and I think we have the potential to really make a difference in these kidsâ?? lives and show them something good and something great in these guys," added Dickerson.

      The Columbia Crusaders will kick off their season this May at Allen University.

      To learn more about The Columbia Crusaders, click here.