Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
There's good even in PJ Dozier leaving early for the NBA.

Silver linings with PJ Dozier declaring for the NBA draft

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

PJ Dozier is headed for the bright lights of the NBA … most likely.

The Gamecocks’ star sophomore point guard announced on Wednesday he’ll be entering the NBA draft — but not signing with an agent, at the moment.

It’s not a shocking move whatsoever. Dozier has the size and skill to play at the next level and, like teammate Sindarius Thornwell, the point guard seriously raised his profile with an impressive run in the tournament.

RELATED: South Carolina guard PJ Dozier declares for NBA draft 

While he’ll certainly be missed on the court, the rising junior’s early arrival in the NBA has far bigger implications for the South Carolina program.

Coach Frank Martin and USC can now not only boast about their Final Four appearance but point to Dozier and say, “We prepare you for the league here …” To me, that’s the brightest of silver linings.

The end of Dozier in Columbia?

PJ Dozier-South Carolina-South Carolina basketball
Could PJ Dozier benefit from another year in college? (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Because the 6-foot-6 guard has yet to sign with an agent, he has until May 24 to decide to return to school or stay in the draft.

With the latest mock drafts pegging Dozier a late first-round pick, he’ll be able to go through the proper evaluation process to accurately determine if his stock is at an all-time high or if another year of seasoning in college will do him good.

“Dozier has impressive physical tools and looks the part of a top-flight prospect on first glance, but still has plenty of work to do on his skill level, feel for the game and shooting,” wrote Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony in early March. “A big NCAA Tournament showing, playing in his home state of South Carolina, would be a nice way to salvage this season and give him some momentum heading into the NBA draft process, should he elect to take that route.”

As much as I’d love to see Dozier back in a South Carolina uniform, I think there’s a good chance he earns high marks in the pre-draft process and turns pro.

Montgomery shines on the mound

Former South Carolina LHP Jordan Montgomery struck out 7 in his big league debut for the Yankees on Thursday.

RELATED: Former South Carolina LHP Jordan Montgomery strikes out 7 in MLB debut for New York Yankees

“The stage at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is bigger than Founders Park in Columbia, S.C., but former Gamecocks left-hander Jordan Montgomery didn’t look much different in his first MLB game than he did as a collegiate pitcher,” wrote SEC Country’s Dave Holcomb.

Another QB heads to Columbia

Four-star QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was on campus for an official visit on Wednesday.

Born in Columbia, the 6-1.5 signal caller now stars at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.

RELATED: 4-star QB set to visit

Dorian Thompson Robinson-South Carolina
Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the No. 4 dual-threat QB in the 2018 class, according to 247Sports. (studentsports.com)

247Sports has Thompson-Robinson rated as the No. 50 overall prospect in the nation in the 2018 cycle.

Though UCLA and Michigan are believed to be the leaders for the 4-star quarterback, he did tweet the following on Wednesday night, which could be good news for the Gamecocks (?):

Johnson returns

South Carolina baseball-Tyler Johnson
Tyler Johnson was sharp in limited time on the mound on Tuesday night. (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

Though the scoreboard wasn’t in their favor, the Gamecocks did get a personal victory on Tuesday night against UNC — the return of flame-throwing closer Tyler Johnson.

RELATED: Tyler Johnson ends ‘long road,’ returns to South Carolina baseball 

“It was a big, personal mountain to climb,” Johnson said. “I went out there and had every intention of feeling good. I did. I can’t wait to build upon this outing and get back out there.”

The junior had been out of action since March 4, after dealing with losing velocity and dealing with some soreness at the end of an outing.

Though his time on the mound was limited, Johnson showed skipper Chad Holbrook enough for him to say confidently the right-hander should be his closer for the weekend series against Mississippi State.

In case you missed it

Carolina kayfabe

The term “kayfabe” refers to the portrayal of pro wrestling’s scripted events in the ring as being real or true. Carolina Kayfabe dramatizes events in Gamecocks athletics through professional wrestling.

With their championship years thought to be behind them, the South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team (Hardy Boys) are broken by a tough loss to UNC. The defeat ultimately drives them back to their winning ways, prompting them to go to on a tear to win the SEC (tag team title) and a place in Omaha (Wrestlemania).