P.J. Dozier’s freshman year was a mix of dazzling play and head-scratching frustration. The McDonald’s All-American was exactly what he was supposed to be at times, and a typical freshman who couldn’t adjust quickly enough at others.
He committed himself to getting better this summer. Having a two-time NBA MVP as a teacher helped.
Dozier was one of 40 players personally invited by Steph Curry to train at Curry’s SC30 Select Camp at the end of June. Dozier flew to California with some of the nation’s other top non-professional guards and received one-on-one instruction from the Golden State standout.
“It was really just to obtain as much information as possible from everybody that was there,” Dozier said. “We had great coaches, and then one of the best that’s doing it right now, Steph Curry himself.”
Dozier had decent numbers last year, averaging 6.7 points and three rebounds while starting 28 of 34 games at point guard. He listed improved ball-handling as a goal in 2016-17 after recording 70 assists to 90 turnovers.
The Curry camp helped.
“It was a lot of skill work and development, which is definitely what I needed,” Dozier said.
Dozier came to South Carolina as a highly touted prospect, perhaps one that would consider the NBA after a season. NBA scouts saw Dozier during the year, but he didn’t want to talk about professional ball until the year ended.
Once it did, it was maybe a three-minute consideration.
“I wasn’t comfortable with making that next step,” Dozier said.
Which cleared up the rest of his offseason. Every day would be spent improving, helping himself become a better player and his team take the one step it couldn’t climb last year. The Gamecocks will be led, at least early in the year, by their backcourt, and Dozier is the head of the snake at the point.
Training with Curry, individual workouts and participating in the S.C. Pro-Am have made Dozier a more complete player. Frank Martin has lauded his offseason work and, like his point guard, is anxious for the season to arrive.
“I definitely learned a lot,” Dozier said. “When you learn a lot, it’s never bad. I wish I could have played a lot better just for a personal goal, but at the end of the day, I’m happy to be coming back and looking forward to the season.”
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