USC Men's Basketball

P.J. Dozier decides to stay in draft, ends USC career

P.J. Dozier didn’t need a month to think about it.

He barely needed four days.

South Carolina’s sophomore point guard has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, sources close to the team confirmed to The State on Monday. After making the expected decision to test the waters and keep his options open on Wednesday, Dozier fully committed to a professional career over the weekend.

Dozier confirmed the decision via his Instagram page Monday afternoon, saying: “With the support of my family and Coaching Staff, I’m excited to continue to pursue my dreams and will be entering the 2017 NBA Draft and signing with an agent. ... I can’t wait to continue to represent my program and University throughout my professional career.”

Listed as a second-round pick in some mock drafts and unlisted on others – although the latest updates came before Dozier declared – the 6-foot-6 guard will have to show he’s fully recovered from a back injury that affected his jump shot over the last half of the season. While Dozier was tremendous offensively in the Gamecocks’ electric run to the Final Four, shooting 50 percent from the field, he was more of an attacker than a shooter.

His frame and two years spent in Frank Martin’s defensive system, though, should have him ready to contribute immediately on that end of the floor.

The Draft is June 22. Dozier will spend that time working out for teams and trying to improve his stock in a year loaded with point guards. Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith are considered lottery-pick point guards while Jawun Evans, Monte Morris, Edmond Sumner, Kobi Simmons and Frank Mason are listed as Top-60 picks in mock drafts. Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss, who defeated Dozier and the Gamecocks in the Final Four, would join that group if he decides to go pro.

Dozier and senior Sindarius Thornwell are attempting to become the first Gamecocks drafted by the NBA since Renaldo Balkman went 20th to New York in 2006. While USC has had several players in the NBA – most notably Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Alex English – its recent draft history has been spotty at best. Balkman was the first to be drafted since Ryan Stack, who went 48th to Cleveland in 1998, and Stack was the first since Jamie Watson went 47th to Utah in 1994.

Dozier’s uncle, Terry Dozier, was undrafted but played nine games for the 1989-90 Charlotte Hornets.

Dozier’s departure solves USC’s scholarship crunch, which stood at one over the 13-man limit if everybody that could returned. Martin continues to recruit, though, looking for immediate help next season after losing three of his top four scorers.

USC will have several options at point guard next season, led by rising sophomore Rakym Felder. The flashy rookie has a year in Martin’s system under his belt, as does Delaware transfer Kory Holden, who sat out last season but was able to practice with the team.

Holden, who averaged nearly 18 points a game in his last season with the Blue Hens, can play the point but it may take away from his scoring ability. Freshman David Beatty, the highest-rated recruit in the class, could challenge for the role as well.

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