Perry “P.J.” Dozier has spent the majority of his life in South Carolina. To say he’s made the most of his youthful 20 years would be a dramatic understatement. Hailing from the capital city of Columbia, Dozier comes from a true basketball family. His father, Perry Sr., played basketball at the University of South Carolina and sister Asia was Gatorade Player of the Year in high school before suiting up for the Gamecocks as well. Uncle Terry also played for the team and even advanced to the NBA.
That goal now falls onto Perry Jr., who is carving his own path to basketball prime time. After considering several college basketball powerhouses, he would follow his family’s legacy. “It kind of resonated with me (that they went to South Carolina),” says the new Dallas Maverick. “But at the end of the day we all knew I had to make the best decision for me. So I definitely weighed my options when it came to making my final decision where I was going to college.”
The deciding factor? “The group of guys that were there already. I was very familiar with Justin McKie, him being from South Carolina and Sindarius Thornwell as well. That definitely played a part in the final decision, but Frank Martin and his coaching staff did a great job when they first came in to turn that program around. That all definitely played a part.”
After starring at Spring Valley High School and earning 2015 McDonald’s All-American honors, the combo guard scored 14 points sharing the court with future top picks Brandon Ingram (2nd overall, 2016) and Jaylen Brown (3rd, 2016).
At 6 foot 6 and over 200 pounds, Dozier’s frame is one of basketball dreams. When you create a player in NBA 2K, they’re usually this size. And they usually play point guard. Well, so does Dozier.
“Growing up I’ve always been a point guard. I always played up in my age group so I wasn’t necessarily one of the biggest guys on the court. Growing up throughout every level thus far I’ve always played point guard and of course tried to move around from one, two to three. Just trying to be versatile. Trying to have versatility in the game and that’s something I hang my hat on.”
He profiles at shooting guard but will earn every shot to handle duties at the point position. He is sure to mention versatility (and he’ll do it again) because every player needs a calling card and that could be his.
Before inking his deal to enter training camp with the Mavs, Dozier toiled in the Vegas Summer League with the Los Angeles Lakers. He appeared briefly but decorated the stat sheet in limited time. “I was just blessed with the opportunity and very happy I went there with them. It was an enjoyable experience. We had a great group of guys and a great coaching staff. We just had fun all around even though I wasn’t able to play very much.”
The highlight of Dozier’s basketball career has no doubt been his sophomore season at South Carolina. His second and final year of college ball saw the Gamecocks advance to their first Sweet Sixteen…and Elite Eight…and Final Four. A year of history with P.J. playing an integral part. A year of history that nobody really saw coming.
“I don’t think we talked too much about it when we first all got together but we knew that we could be a really good group. We knew if we all bought into Frank Martin and what he brought into the program, we would be as good as we could and I think we accomplished that goal.”
En route to the Final Four, seventh seeded South Carolina blew out Marquette by 20 with Dozier scoring 21, only behind teammate and friend Thornwell’s 29. Next began the Cinderella story with an 88-81 win over second seeded Duke. The nation is on alert.
In the school’s first ever Sweet Sixteen, they handled Johnathan Motley’s third seeded Baylor Bears squad. Motley and Dozier will now be teammates and unfortunately Motley was hurt in the contest, but Dozier is excited to meet up with him again. “Johnathan is a great guy and a tremendous player. I’m definitely glad to be on the same team as he is. That’s exciting to be familiar with someone that’s already on the team. I’m looking forward to it.”
With history all well made, the Gamecocks weren’t done. In the Elite Eight, they knocked off seed number four, the Florida Gators, 77-70. In the Final Four, they were outlasted by the East region’s top seed, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. A narrow four point loss ended the miraculous run, but it’s one Dozier will always have to remember.
“It was surreal, man,” he warmly recalls. “We tried our best to take it one game at a time. We knew that we could make school history if we continued to win each game. That was our best in every game to just take one game at a time and eventually we would see the bigger picture. That’s what the coaching staff harped on, taking one game a time. It was a great run. I was just blessed that we had the opportunity to make it as far as we did.”
Not many human beings can say they played in a Final Four contest. “That’s what all young kids dream about. Being able to play on that stage and play really good basketball. It was definitely a dream come true. Just walking down to the arena and seeing 70-plus thousand fill up the stands was amazing. It was definitely a dream come true and I’m just blessed I was able to do it with the guys I did it with.”
After his breakout tournament that followed his breakout season and a 16 point, nine rebound performance against Gonzaga, Dozier was named to the All-Tournament team. “It definitely means a lot. What my coaching staff and Frank Martin always told us as a group was with team success comes individual success. That’s been a huge part in our team’s success. We’ve had individual guys be recognized for the great basketball they were playing throughout the season. We just continued to stay together and knew if we succeeded as a team, everybody else would be recognized for the great stuff that they’re doing.”
The next step for the South Carolina lifer takes place in The “Big D” of Dallas with the Mavericks. Soon after the summer circuit wrapped up, his offer was on the table and on August 8th, he was officially a member of the team. “After the Summer League ended, my agent let me know that (the Mavs) called and we started talking about that move. I was just blessed to be able to have that opportunity, to have another chance and go to the Mavs and show them what I’m capable of.”
Going into camp, a lot of talented players are vying for the final spots on the Dallas roster. Dozier has a skill set few can relate to and his combination of talent and potential makes him a name to watch as the summer progresses.
His plan is simple: “Just to continue to show them what I have to offer. Show them that I’m a very versatile player offensively and defensively. I know everyone’s looking for that guy that can go out there and stop somebody for them. I try to use my physical attributes to do that. So just try to show versatility and what I can bring to the table.”