David Cloninger

Carrera sticking at 3; Dozier OK after fall at Pro-Am Day 2

Michael Carrera will stick to the wing as a senior.
Michael Carrera will stick to the wing as a senior. gmelendez@thestate.com

I can definitely see P.J. Dozier playing point guard at South Carolina this year.

Maybe even starting.

Frank Martin has already credited the freshman’s ability to handle the ball, saying it’s on a string from either hand. His scoring has been explosive thus far in the S.C. Pro-Am, Dozier erupting for 29 on Sunday (with several dunks where he whipped the ball through so fast the inbound was halfway downcourt before the points were rung up) and nine on Monday. While I know that it’s normally not a great thing to ask a true freshman to play point guard in major college basketball, the Gamecocks ought to have enough depth to make it worthwhile to try.

Duane Notice can play point. Ditto Marcus Stroman. Both of those guys can take over anytime.

But if Dozier starts at the point, and Notice and Sindarius Thornwell can head to the wings, that opens several possibilities for Martin. Michael Carrera (35 Pro-Am points on Sunday, 29 Monday) will stick at the three this year and can give USC four guards and a big, or Martin can play three guards and two posts since he finally has options. He won’t have to stick an obviously undersized guy in the paint simply because there’s nobody else – Raymond Doby, Eric Cobb, the two Lithuanians, Chris Silva, even 6-8 walk-on Jarrell Holliman can all fill in as needed.

* Dozier was OK after sustaining a nasty injury.

He went up for a shot and had his legs cut out from under him. He fell to the floor face-first. It looked a lot worse than it actually was.

His upper right lip was bloodied and he was taken to get stitches.

CARRERA seems happy to be at the wing, although that hasn’t always been the case. Playing on the block took away his ability to swoop in for acrobatic stick-backs; at 6-5, he could always get a board or two in the paint but have trouble putting it back. He’ll have to pick and choose his shooting from outside – while he scored 29 on Monday, he was 12-of-25 and 2-of-8 from the 3-point line – but he can make enough of those shots to keep defenses on their toes.

It’s tough to design offense for Carrera because you never know what you’re going to get. He shoots early in the possession and while he can finish inside, give it to him enough down there and opponents will turn their posts loose and start sending his shots back to half-court. But from the wing, where he can eye the rebound and plot where he needs to go, or shoot the jumper, he can be a 10-point, maybe even 15-to-18-point, guy.

Carrera’s passion is his greatest strength and weakness. On Monday, he buried two game-tying shots. He also fouled a player to stop the clock in a tie game, and if this had been a real game, it could have gone as an intentional foul – no need to snap a guy’s head back there. He’s a key, though – he’ll be a guy USC wants on the floor on the last possession.

Scoreboard:

Justin McKie – 13

Michael Carrera – 29

Jarrell Holliman -- 4

John Ragin – 5

P.J. Dozier – 9

Chris Silva – 11

Duane Notice – 10

Jamall Gregory – 18

Raymond Doby – 17

Marcus Stroman -- 8

Personnel update:

USC walk-ons Holliman and John Ragin each played on Monday. Holliman is a 6-8 transfer from Elmhurst (Ill.) College, originally from Alpharetta, Ga. Ragin is a 6-2 local kid from Cardinal-Newman.

The Pro-Am continues at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday. The playoffs, I’m told, probably won’t happen this year due to the abbreviated schedule. They’ll probably hold a showcase, and I’ll get that date to you as soon as I know it.

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