Frank Martin has always stressed that his team is a family.
The latest addition represents the old and the new.
National Top-40 recruit P.J. Dozier decided to continue the tradition on Wednesday when he committed to South Carolina on the first day of the early signing period. Dozier, a 6-foot-6 four-star guard rated the No. 34 player in the nation by Rivals.com, pledged to Martin and became the latest member of his family to don garnet and black.
“It’s good to say that I’m able to do that,” Dozier said. “It’s just a blessing that my family has been through there and set their mark there, for me to come along and try to continue that.”
Dozier’s dad, Perry Sr., played at USC from 1986-88 and uncle Terry was there from 1986-89. Sister Asia is a junior guard for the No. 2 USC women’s team. Son, nephew and brother committed 30 years to the day from when his father and uncle committed to USC.
P.J. chose the Gamecocks over Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan and North Carolina. USC confirmed his signing Wednesday afternoon. He fills the one open scholarship the Gamecocks had for next year (USC also has a commitment from three-star forward Chris Silva of New Jersey).
The latest Dozier to pick USC had USC at the top of his list from the beginning, but father and coach Perry Sr. wanted him to look around. “I was kind of, a little bothered by it, because I said, ‘You didn’t give these other schools chances,’ ” Perry Sr. said. “When he took these five visits, he really loved them. At the end, he really was confused, he just wasn’t sure, because everybody had something to offer him.”
P.J. kept thinking of how much Martin had impressed him. The Gamecocks haven’t won many games recently, but Martin told Dozier he could be the player that helped change that.
Plus, there was something P.J. felt that he didn’t feel as strongly when he was wearing maize, baby blue, red or navy blue.
“I think it’s just the trust issue – not issue, but I trust that staff a whole lot and I feel like I can reach my goals at the University of South Carolina,” P.J. said. “I think it was just the feel. I could see myself there next year, and I think that was the main thing.”
His family liked Martin and obviously knew the school. With P.J. reaching out to his sister any time he had a question, his father got to know Martin a little better.
“Super guy. Super, super guy,” Perry Sr. said. “His goals and the things that he’s trying to do, I watch his staff and I watch what they do off the court and I tell you what, he’s got his program going in the right direction, and it’s going to be even better now.”
P.J. made up his mind and kept it to himself, claiming that he didn’t even tell Martin. His concerns about feeling comfortable, at home and at a program that was on its way up had been alleviated.
“South Carolina wouldn’t be in the mix if I didn’t feel like they had the coaches and the players to (win),” he said. “I’m definitely excited to play along with them and try to get this thing going. First and foremost, just trying to come in there and make a big impact, get some wins under our belt.”
All that was left was to add a garnet cap reading “Gamecocks” to his black suit and light garnet bow tie.
Dozier is the fourth Top-100 player Martin has signed at USC. Sindarius Thornwell (43) and Demetrius Henry (100) are entering their sophomore years while Marcus Stroman (94) is a freshman. The Gamecocks also have senior transfer Ty Johnson, who was rated 52nd in the country when he signed with Villanova.
With Dozier joining, the Gamecocks turn their eyes to Dreher’s Tevin Mack, the No. 77 prospect in the country. Mack will sign at noon on Thursday and is choosing from USC, Clemson, Virginia Commonwealth, Georgia and defending national champion Connecticut.