PJ Dozier is a 6-foot-6 point guard who can defend and is smooth offensively. PJ Dozier is 2 feet out of the door now, signed with an agent and the door closed on returning to South Carolina basketball, per reports. He’s headed to the NBA draft, where there aren’t a lot of 6-foot-6 point guards who can defend and are smooth offensively.
The news Monday that Dozier is full-steam ahead with the NBA process now just days after saying the decision to declare was made easier by the option to return comes as a bit of a surprise, but only in the timing. Dozier could have waited until the NBA Combine was over to make that choice, gathering more feedback and getting a better feel for the situation.
He didn’t. He surely feels good about the decision and is onto the NBA, where his game fits wonderfully and where he will need to continue developing a better jump shot.
But what does it mean for South Carolina? The Gamecocks are losing arguably their 3 most important players from a team that made a run to the Final Four. Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice graduated and now Dozier is departing after his sophomore season.
Chris Silva is the only returning player who averaged more than 10 points per game, leaving the junior as a crucial player for the Gamecocks next year. But Silva was already going to be that, with or without Dozier on the roster. The same holds true for Maik Kotsar.
Dozier’s decision hits the backcourt hard, leaving the Gamecocks returning only Hassani Gravett from their top 5 guards from a minute-per-game standpoint.
Much of the success the Gamecocks want to have next season now trickles down to the trio of Rakym Felder, transfer Kory Holden and incoming freshman David Beatty. Fittingly, the trio chimed in on Twitter soon after the news of Dozier’s decision came out Monday.
— Kory Holden (@KHolden_11) April 17, 2017
Facts, Keep calm ?? https://t.co/KylJ13fX9V
— DB (@DavidBeatty13) April 17, 2017
The Gamecocks know what they have in Felder, who likes to shoot and hit 42 percent of his shots from 3-point range. His game needs refining, as he sometimes plays outside the offense. But he’s a bowling ball defensively who can be called upon more next season. With Dozier out, the first crack at the point position figures to belong to Felder.
Holden will have all eyes on him from now until the season starts, however. The Delaware transfer scored 17.7 points per game and hit 38.8 percent from 3-point range in his final season as a Blue Hen and has 2 years remaining to play at South Carolina. If he’s capable of stepping in as the No. 1 scoring guard for the Gamecocks, a lot of questions will be answered for a South Carolina team that will look a whole lot different than the one that played in Glendale, Ariz., earlier in April.
Beatty will come in as a long guard who should contribute right away and will be expected to. He can score in a variety of ways, but is at his best in moving around in the offense and finding space in the defense to score.
Gravett, of course, also will be called upon to have a bigger role in the offense as a guard off the bench who has a year in the system.
So the Gamecocks know who will be relied upon more, and they will be looking to make the pieces work with plenty of time to go before next season begins.