Watch: PJ Dozier discusses playing in SC Pro-Am, NBA future
Jo Jo English understands what P.J. Dozier is going through as Dozier tries stick on an NBA roster.
English went undrafted coming out of South Carolina in 1992 before signing with the Chicago Bulls. He played parts of three seasons alongside future Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen before spending nearly a decade in the Continental Basketball Association and overseas.
Dozier, like English, went undrafted coming out of USC after two seasons and following the Gamecocks’ Final Four run in 2017. The former McDonald’s All-American has spent the last two seasons as a two-way player in the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017-18, Boston Celtics in 2018-19 and with their respective G League teams.
The Celtics opted not to retain Dozier after the season. He played in the Las Vegas Summer League this month for the Philadelphia 76ers and is waiting to land with his next team. Dozier said his agent is hearing from a few teams, including Philadelphia, and remains confident he will land with an NBA team soon.
Dozier spent Tuesday night back in Columbia playing in the seventh annual S.C. Pro-Am at Heathwood Hall.
“Told his mom a few months ago he has an NBA game and body,” said English, who coached Dozier’s Chick-fil-A squad at the SC Pro-Am. “You just have to find the right niche. It is a lot easier now with two-way contracts in that. Out of 30 teams, it only takes one person to really like you.
“Sometimes it takes a few years like it did for Torrey Craig, who took four or five years to find his niche, right coach to believe in you and the right system.”
Craig, who was a standout at Great Falls High and played at USC Upstate, played three seasons in Australia before signing with the Denver Nuggets and becoming a mainstay on the roster.
Dozier has appeared in eight NBA games the past two seasons and spent much of this year with the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s G League team. He started 46 games for Maine, averaged 21.1 points, 6.7 assists and 6.6 rebounds and was third team all-G-League selection.
Dozier had a strong end to the Summer League, with 22 points (including four 3-pointers), seven assists and seven rebounds in the win over Toronto.
“I always feel like I can do better. Wanted to go out with a bang,” Dozier said of his summer league performance. “Taking it step by step and day by day. It is a business first and foremost, and then basketball comes after that. I understand that things don’t happen your way all the time. But you keep your head up and know your worth. As long as you know your worth, you will be able to take it to the next level.”
Dozier said he has been able to use these last two years as a learning experience and believes his game has benefited for it. Now he hopes to reap the benefits down the road.
“Just got to find what is going to get me out on the court and do that night in and night out. That is what I have learned and will build my game around that,” said Dozier, who scored 13 points Tuesday in the Pro-Am. “My dream was to be out there and to play in an NBA game. I have done that. So now I am going to continue to strive and create new goals and aspirations for myself.”