Caught up with the future on Thursday night.
P.J. Dozier and Spring Valley beat Zion Lutheran (Fla.) 74-67 in the Bojangles’ Bash at Ridge View High, Dozier’s second game since he underwent minor knee surgery. The South Carolina signee played with a brace on his right knee – the same one that caused him to miss his junior season due to ACL surgery; the latest procedure was a “clean-out” of loose bits of cartilage – and you could tell he was still getting back to form.
Dozier looked good running the floor but didn’t have his best game, scoring six points on 2-of-9 shooting. Still, he impacted the game with five rebounds, four assists and four steals. The Vikings beat Zion, which features Florida signee (and former USC recruit) Keith Stone. Stone scored 32.
He said he felt fine. He’s used to wearing the brace and blamed the poor shooting on “just one of those games.” It was also his second game in three days and he hasn’t played full-contact since the summer.
“The brace really doesn’t affect me too much,” Dozier said. “Just trying to get back out there and get the feel of it.”
Dozier said there’s some lingering soreness in the knee but nothing concerning, and estimates he’s about 75-80 percent. The Vikings are playing an aggressive schedule, competing in this month’s Chick-fil-A Classic at Richland Northeast High and then the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach.
Dozier estimates he’ll be 100 percent by the region schedule and will probably wear the brace throughout the season. Once he gets to USC in the summer, he’ll try some pickup games without it, and he plans to play in the S.C. Pro-Am.
“Of course they didn’t want me to rush back,” he said. “They said go as you feel, and I felt good to come back out and try to work my way in.”
Dozier’s next test – Saturday night at home vs. Hammond and Seventh Woods. Hammond has a few tickets remaining. The girls game is at 6 p.m. with the boys set for 7:30 p.m. The Bojangles’ Bash continues Friday and Saturday (schedule).