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Boca Ciega star picks USF

Boca Ciega basketball star Jimmy Baxter has committed to play at the University of South Florida, he said Tuesday.

The 6-foot-5{ wing, expected to be one of the Tampa Bay area's top players next season, said he chose the Bulls because coach Seth Greenberg and his staff have been consistent in their support of his basketball and academic career.

"We've got a good relationship going," Baxter said. "They've got my best interests in mind."

Baxter, who said he also was considering Florida, Miami, Penn State and Baylor, said the USF staff pushed him when his academics started to slack.

"When it came down to it, when I needed help with my grades, they stepped up," Baxter said. "It was always a talking thing. They said this is what I needed to do to go to a Division I college. Not just USF, but any college."

Baxter said he improved his core grade-point average to 2.5 and his overall average to 3.0. He said he will take the SAT the first weekend of September.

Baxter was a Times first-team All-Pinellas and a second-team All-Suncoast player last season. He said he is relieved his future is taking shape.

"There are still some issues I have to think about with me and Jesus Christ to see if this is really what I want to do," he said. "But as far as man-to-man, it's done."

_ DAMIAN CRISTODERO

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