In South Carolina's quest to the return to the NCAA tournament, the Gamecocks have signed a version of a hero from their last Big Dance run.
At least that's what Frank Martin sees in incomer A.J. Lawson.
"He’s like P.J. Dozier all over again," the USC coach said Tuesday during an SEC teleconference with reporters.
Lawson, a versatile four-star prospect from Canada, officially committed to Carolina on Tuesday. He's a listed 6-foot-7 wing, but his game compares to the 6-6 point guard who helped USC get to the Final Four in 2017.
Dozier, now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder's organization, averaged 10.4 points and 2.4 assists over two seasons in garnet and black. The Columbia product was a McDonald's All-American coming out of Spring Valley High School.
"A little different as a player, but (Lawson's) every bit of 6-6, 6-7," Martin said. "Point guard that can play off the ball. Extremely fast with the ball. Probably shoots it better than P.J. did at the same stage of his career."
One of Martin's final appearances before Lawson came in mid-June at the FIBA under-18 Americas championships in Canada. Lawson averaged 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in helping the Canadians to a runner-up finish.
He picked the Gamecocks over Creighton and Tulane.
“A.J.’s an unbelievable kid," Martin said. "We’ve been recruiting him for a year, thinking he’s going to be a ’19 (class member). When he called and said he was going to change his mind, we jumped on him right away and we’re very, very fortunate that we were able to sign him.”
The run of pledges didn't start until three-star guard Jermaine Couisnard's commitment on Jan. 27. Couisnard is 6-5 and April pledge T.J. Moss is 6-4. Throw in Lawson's length and Martin is pleased about the future of his backcourt.
"Big, big long guards that all take on the defensive challenges and understand the game as point guards," Martin said. "(It) kind of gives me the nucleus of young kids that we feel pretty good about."
South Carolina's 2018 recruiting class
▪ G Jermaine Cousinard (East Chicago, Indiana)
▪ G T.J. Moss (Memphis, Tennessee)
▪ G Tre Campbell (graduate transfer from Georgetown)
▪ G Jair Bolden (traditional transfer from George Washington)
▪ G/F A.J. Lawson (Canada)
▪ F Keyshawn Bryant (Winter Haven, Florida)
▪ F Alanzo Frink (Roselle, New Jersey)