On Wednesday, South Carolina sophomore P.J. Dozier announced he would declare for the NBA Draft. However, he has not hired an agent, leaving open the possibility of returning to school.
The NBA allows underclassmen to go through the combine and other workouts so that they can get a better gauge on whether they should leave school. It's a great opportunity for players like Dozier, who can now get expert advice and feedback on where he would likely be taken in the draft. If he doesn't feel comfortable with his projections, he can return to school and continue his Gamecock career.
"That made it easier to be able to have that option," Dozier noted.
Dozier made the decision to declare after talking with his family and the South Carolina coaching staff. It's a big moment for Dozier as every basketball player dreams of one day playing in the NBA.
"They were probably more excited than I was," Dozier said of his family.
Dozier said playing under head coach Frank Martin has helped prepare him for the next level. The Columbia native has improved significantly since arriving on campus last season, and Martin has been supportive every step of the way.
"He's a great guy," Dozier said of Martin. "He definitely handled this whole thing like I'm one of his sons. He has my best interests in mind, and I know that. That's why I have so much faith and trust in him."
Dozier played extremely well in the NCAA tournament as the Gamecocks made a run to the Final Four. He averaged nearly 16 points per game and was South Carolina's second best player behind Sindarius Thornwell.
Dozier showed flashes of brilliance throughout the regular season, but his consistency during the postseason on a national stage certainly did nothing to hurt Dozier's chances of being noticed by a NBA general manager.
"With team success comes individual success," Dozier said. "Just happy that we were able to make that run, and then have this opportunity now."
With it still being early in the process, Dozier is still trying to figure some things out. He hasn't had many conversations yet with scouts, and isn't sure if he'll stay in Columbia to work out. He's also not sure what it would take to get him to officially forego his final two years of collegiate eligibility.
Currently, Dozier is projected as a late first-round pick, but that could change depending on how he performs at the NBA combine from May 9-14. He has until May 24 to decide if he wants to return to school instead of taking the next step.
"We're just taking it step-by-step," Dozier said. "This is the first step. Right now, just focusing on continuing to get better. Train and make that decision when the time comes."
**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Artie Walker**