COLUMBIA, S.C. — PJ Dozier spent the past 10 days or so thinking through the next step to make in his basketball career.
After days of conversations with family and Gamecocks coach Frank Martin, the South Carolina guard opted to enter his name in the NBA Draft on Wednesday, but did not sign with an agent to keep the door open on returning to South Carolina.
In the end, it was that option that the NBA put in place two years ago to allow players to gather more information and go through the draft process that was appealing to Dozier.
“That made it that much easier to be able to have that option and be able to weigh your options,” Dozier said. ”I’m blessed to be able to have the opportunity that the NBA allows us young guys to go enter the draft and get some feedback on where we are and make the deciding choice on whether we want to go or not.”
Dozier said the conversations with his family were “really simple” as they discussed whether exploring the possibility of the NBA Draft this season is something he was interested in after South Carolina’s season concluded with a Final Four loss to Gonzaga. It was, as the Columbia native took the first step in the NBA Draft process by entering his name.
What comes next is much more up in the air.
The 6-foot-6 Dozier hasn’t talked to many people about where he is projected to be picked at this juncture and has yet to decide whether he will do his pre-draft work in Columbia or elsewhere. He also said he hasn’t really spoken with agents yet, saying the conversations that have been had are being kept in-house with his family and coaches.
Dozier said Martin has been supportive throughout the process, adding that playing for Martin for the past two years has helped his confidence in his abilities.
“He definitely handled this whole thing like a son – like I’m one of his sons,” Dozier said. “He has my best interests in mind. I know that. That’s why I have the utmost faith and trust in him.”
Dozier averaged 13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore, dramatically improving across the board from his freshman season. He increased his play even more in the postseason, helping the Gamecocks win four games in the NCAA Tournament and advance to the program’s first Final Four.
He felt the run to Phoenix helped him make the decision to test the draft waters after he averaged 15.6 points per game in the tournament and shot better than 50 percent from the field.
“I was happy about how we had that run during the tournament – not only for me, but for my team as well,” Dozier said. “I think that definitely put eyes on individual players, but with team success comes individual success. I’m just happy that we were able to make that run and be able to have this opportunity.”
Admittedly, the idea of being an NBA player gets Dozier excited. But Dozier also said he has greatly enjoyed his first two years as a Gamecock since arriving as a McDonald’s All-American.
Dozier now will be hoping for an invite to the NBA Draft Combine, which takes place from May 9-14. He will have 10 days after that to decide whether he wants to return to school or keep his name in the NBA Draft.
Through it all, Dozier will seek to gather as much information as possible to prepare him to make what he called “that next decision” on Thursday.
“Right now, we are just taking it step by step,” Dozier said. “This was the first step to make the decision to go enter. Right now, we are just focused on continuing to get better, train and make that decision when the time comes.”