USC Men's Basketball

For USC’s PJ Dozier, declaring for the draft only a first step

Making Final Four special for Dozier family

P.J. Dozier discusses importance of his family and being able to share Final Four experience with them.
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P.J. Dozier discusses importance of his family and being able to share Final Four experience with them.

Before last year, South Carolina sophomore point guard P.J. Dozier declaring for the draft would be a done deal that he was gone.

In the current setup, it’s really more of an exploratory thing.

Dozier officially announced he’ll go through the pre-draft process on Wednesday, and when he spoke to media members Thursday, he indicated it was very much a first step without much settled. The decision came out of discussion with the folks that really matter.

“Just a conversation with the coaching staff and my family,” Dozier said. “Just blessed to be able to have the opportunity. The NBA allows us young guys to be able to go into the draft, get some feedback, see where we are and make the deciding choice.”

He said he hasn’t looked into training, whether he’ll do his predraft work in Columbia or leave school (there’s only three weeks left in the semester). He also said he hasn’t looked much into agents, and declined to mention specifics on that front.

He noted the key thing is gathering information, both about his stock and the moving pieces around the process.

Players have until May 24 to decide if they want to return to school. That’s 10 days after the draft combine, plus players can work out once for each NBA team. At least 91 underclassmen put their names in, 33 of which have hired agents.

Dozier admitted thinking about the chance to be an NBA player stirred something within him.

“Saying that alone gets me excited,” Dozier said.

He felt the Gamecocks’ run to the Final Four helped him toward the decision to test the draft waters. He shot 50.8 percent and averaged 15.6 points in those five games.

The Spring Valley product and former McDonald’s All-American said Gamecocks coach Frank Martin was supportive of the choice, treating Dozier as he would his own son.

Dozier’s prospects aren’t so clear at the moment. He made some first rounds in mock drafts early in the season, but at this point is either in the second round or not picked in those projections.

As a 6-foot-6 point guard, he’s got next-level size and length. But he also shot 28.5 percent from beyond the arc, 59.7 percent from the free throw line. He also hit only 38.6 percent of his shots after back spasms sidelined him against Kentucky in late January.

What this means for Dozier and the Gamecocks won’t be clear for more than a month. He’s got a process to go through, and he’s only at the start.

“Right now, we’re just kind of taking it step by step,” Dozier said. “This was the first step. Just focused on continuing to get better, train and make that decision when the time comes.”

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