He didn't require the benefit of legacy to emerge early onto the national scene. Back in the 2012 summer, Perry Dozier competed with the Upward Stars at the Peach State Summer Showcase and earmarked himself an obvious high-major talent.
My first exposure to his game took place at the 2012 Chick-Fil-A Classic, where he squared off versus touted, St. John's-bound senior point guard Rysheed Jordan. In that contest, Dozier erupted for 27 points and nine rebounds versus a blue-chip opponent two classes ahead of him.
He therefore entered the 2013 travel season as one of the hottest players in the Class of 2015. Dozier performed beneath expectations, however, struggling to establish an offensive rhythm. One key facet to his subpar play became apparent when the family announced that he'd undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL he'd played on since middle school.
Dozier thus missed his entire junior season and didn't suit up again until this past spring. He opened the travel circuit gingerly but, still playing with the Stars, became one of the country's most impressive seniors during the course of a long summer.
He has grown from 6-4 as a sophomore to a rangy 6-6 senior, yet he has retained his ball skills, become more confident in his athleticism and begun to fill out physically.
On the opening day of the November signing period, Dozier announced for the hometown Gamecocks.
Both for the intermediate and longer term, Dozier's most prized talent will be his exceptional ball skills for a long-armed, 6-6 player.
He's a very coordinated and flexible athlete who sits down on his dribble, rather than hunch over it the way most players his size do. The result is that he's a much more effective handler when pressured and when knifing into traffic. His low, fluid dribbling also enables him to very quickly transition from driving into passing.
|Dozier has been vetted against stout national competition|
Without question, Dozier ranks among the most gifted passers in the Class of 2015. He possesses top-notch court vision and creates his own opportunities, using his dribble to enhance the angles. He finds big guys as they flash open onto the low block, passes over defenders on the move to hit open jump shooters, and he runs the break to near perfection.
The combination of his handling and passing explains why we categorize him at point guard, even though he's 6-6. You certainly could argue that he slots better on the wing, but that issue will sort itself out over time.
As a scorer, Dozier has improved athletically and now finishes above the rim off one foot. When he's already in motion, he accelerates well to generate sufficient altitude for slams and other contested finishes versus big men.
His jump shot remains a point of contention, but clearly he boasts a nice, high arch. He also has become fairly reliable from the middle areas and is comfortable lofting in short jumpers from the baseline.
Dozier's versatility extends to defense. His height and length are weapons when guarding shorter foes, and again his flexibility shows up as he sits into his stance and slides his feet without becoming overly fatigued in that position.
His competitive demeanor is more calm than fiery, and he remains engaged and focused on the task at hand — another quality that augers well for his potential future at point guard.
As mentioned, Dozier has improved athletically but still doesn't reside in the truly explosive category. He sometimes struggles to create separation with his dribble and relies very heavily on shot fakes to throw defenders off-balance.
If he's going to be the primary offensive facilitator, he'll have to develop coping mechanisms to offset the quickness disadvantage he'll typically face versus shorter guards. He also possesses good, not great body control on drives, so he may need to develop a more refined short-offense game rather than depend on finishes at the bucket.
And he certainly must raise the accuracy of his three-point shooting. Dozier has improved from shorter areas and isn't an outright non-shooter from deep, but his release is a little slow and he can be only sporadically effective.
On the whole, Dozier's progress has been dramatic. Nine months ago, many wondered aloud whether he was a genuine top-50 prospect. These days, he tends to hold down a place in the top 35 and may possess an outside shot of rising into lower McDonald's range.
More importantly, he now projects as an immediate contributor at South Carolina. He still needs to get stronger, but he isn't frail and already has begun to gain some muscle. Finishing that job should be easy for him.
His maturity and playing style should endear him to college coaches quickly, as "trust" is a frequent descriptor attached to Dozier's relationship with his bosses on the sideline.
My projection is that he'll provide immediate help in a utility role and potentially push for a starting position. He'll have to develop more polished offense to shine as a scorer, and I can anticipate a more deliberate rate of improvement while he gradually slots into his ultimate role and position, whatever that may be.
Long-term, he appears to have a realistic chance to make the NBA and, as long as he remains healthy, at the minimum should enjoy a very successful professional career overseas.
From South Carolina's perspective, Dozier gives the program a huge shot in the arm. The Gamecocks obviously will benefit from his ability as a player, but he also keeps a local talent at home and gives them nice momentum for additional 2015 recruits as well as 2016 prospects.