For years, Perry Dozier Sr. fibbed. OK, maybe downright lied is more accurate.
He’d sign his son, PJ Dozier, up for rec leagues and area tournaments and fudge his son’s age.
But Perry wasn’t trying to turn his son into a basketball Danny Almonte, hoping to buck the system so his son stood out among the competition. No, Perry would tell people PJ was two years older than he was, purposefully putting him at a disadvantage.
The way Perry figured it, PJ not only would be challenged by the older, bigger boys, but also would avoid being pigeonholed and stuffed in the post from the first day he touched a ball because he was so much taller than kids his own age.
The experiment worked — well, except for the time PJ dribbled upcourt with tears streaming down his face because he was being pushed around too much by the older kids — until father and son embarked on a little tour. They hit up all the big youth summer tournaments, and Perry finally had to come clean about PJ’s age.
That summer, PJ finally played with kids his own age.
He came home ranked the best fifth-grader in the nation by one recruiting service.
“It was exciting, but I was 10,” PJ said. “It didn’t really mean anything. I knew I just had to stay the course.”
Desi Rodriguez made a tiebreaking a layup with 11.6 seconds left, lifting Seton Hall over No. 16 South Carolina 67-64 in the Under Armour Reunion at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
The Pirates went ahead when Rodriguez took an inbound pass from Khadeen Carrington and drove along the baseline for the layup. PJ Dozier then missed a 3-pointer for the Gamecocks, and Myles Powell knocked down one free throw for Seton Hall (8-2).
The Pirates trailed by nine early in the second half before rallying. Carrington led Seton Hall with 21 points after missing his first five shots.
Dozier scored 20 points for South Carolina (8-1), which shot 38.6 percent and was outscored 40-30 in the final 20 minutes.
COLUMBIA — There was nothing the defender could do but hack and hope. PJ Dozier left him flailing with a nifty stutter-step drive into the lane, and the South Carolina point guard elevated through the foul for an easy basket that pushed the Gamecocks’ lead to into double digits.
It was an aggressive, confident move of the kind USC saw too few of last season, as Dozier struggled through a rocky freshman campaign. And it’s the kind of move the 19th-ranked Gamecocks need more of now as they go on without leading scorer Sindarius Thornwell, under indefinite suspension for an undisclosed violation of athletic department policy.
“He’s starting to spread his wings a little bit,” head coach Frank Martin said of Dozier, now a sophomore, “so it’s going to put more responsibility on his plate.”
He certainly seems capable of handling it. Dozier heads into USC’s game Monday against Seton Hall in Madison Square Garden having put up a career-high 21 against Vermont, and then 20 against Florida International in USC’s first game without Thornwell. Dozier is now South Carolina’s second-leading scorer, his 12.8 points per game ranking behind Thornwell’s 18.7.