Sometimes, players are able to work through long-standing injuries. In other cases, the pain and limitations imposed by them simply prove too much.
The latter scenario arose for P.J. Dozier last summer. Seemingly off his game for a period of several months, Dozier ultimately disclosed that he'd suffered a torn ACL way back in 2007. Having performed on the injury for years, he felt he aggravated it in 2013 and thus opted to undergo surgery last fall.
That decision likely will pay off. Dozier clearly didn't perform to his capabilities on the travel circuit a year ago, looking sluggish alongside his nationally ranked peers. And that disappointing play followed a sophomore season in which he demonstrated impressive skills.
Skill is the key term. Dozier is an advanced handler and passer for a 6-4 guard, and arguments have ensued the past couple years whether he projects better as a college point guard or a wing. Regardless, he was sensational at times as a sophomore, including at the Chick-Fil-A Classic in December, 2012.
At his best, Dozier possesses a slinky style in which he changes speeds and utilizes clever dribble moves to penetrate the lane. Once inside, he pulls up for short jumpers or whips sharp passes to open teammates. He also has been a streaky three-point who had pieced together some huge games from long-range prior to his extended slump last summer.
No one knows exactly what to expect once he returns to action. Some rust likely will be unavoidable, but of course his overall talent and skill level should enable him to shine once he's healthy.
All of the criticisms and concerns his play drew last summer — including poor shooting and generally unassertive play — must be viewed through the prism of serious injury. More than most of our other ranked juniors, Dozier will hit the travel circuit under far murkier circumstances than his peers. Such is the nature of season-ending surgery.
From a recruiting standpoint, Dozier carries big interest and big lineage. Both his father (Perry, Sr.) and his uncle (Terry) played at South Carolina, and Terry advanced on to a professional career. Thus, the Gamecocks factor heavily into P.J.'s recruitment as well, though North Carolina, Clemson and others also are giving chase.