Sidelined by knee surgery, P.J. Dozier renews
his commitment to basketball
By AKILAH IMANI NELSON - ainelson(at)thestate.com
Original article -
November 16, 2013 - For a moment,
P.J. Dozier was worried.
In August, after playing on a torn ACL for
more than four years, Spring Valley’s junior
guard aggravated his knee injury during a
camp. With advice from his parents — his
father, Perry Dozier Sr., doubles as his
coach — Dozier elected to have the surgery
to repair the knee and sit out all or part
of this season.
And briefly, Dozier wondered if this setback
would derail his childhood dreams.
Since middle school, Dozier has been at the
top of national prospect lists. As a
sophomore, he had received offers from more
than a dozen major programs, including
Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State and South
But surgery meant rehabilitation, and that
meant at least a few months off the court.
And Dozier never had spent even a few weeks
off the court.
“I definitely was concerned when I first
found out I wasn’t going to be able to
play,” he said. “All the colleges have been
behind me and they’ve told me they weren’t
“That really let me know that I could take
Without the pressure of a college
scholarship riding on a speedy recovery,
Dozier has begun to see this time of
recovery as a tool.
“I’m not seeing this as a setback or
something that shouldn’t have happened. I
just try to take everything that happened
and turn it into a positive,” he said.
Click Photo to Enlarge (6
TIM DOMINICK — tdominick(at)thestate.com
In the two-and-a-half months since his
surgery, Dozier has found more than a few
Not the least of which is a renewed
commitment to the game.
Dozier, whose involvement with AAU teams,
camps and all-star teams keeps him on the
court year-round, shied away from saying he
had been burnt out. But being forced to take
a step back reignited his passion for the
“I won’t say that I was pulling away from
the game, but this is giving me that extra
drive to really strive and work hard and get
back as soon as possible,” he said.
“I’m just ready to get back out there. This
is definitely a benefit for me,” he said. “I
go home every day and watch basketball. This
has definitely put the motivation back in
It is also making him physically stronger.
“Rehab is the most important thing, and I’m
just taking advantage of this time off, not
being on the court, to build my strength and
agility, which is something I’ve never
really had the time to do when I was playing
with all those teams,” Dozier said.
And, it will ultimately make him a better
teammate, he said.
He still attends every practice, often
jumping in to shoot around a bit, but enjoys
the perspective that comes from being
“It’s good for me to sit back and watch and
see the things I can bring to the game,”
Without Dozier, the Vikings are counting on
their younger talent to step up, said coach
“P.J. makes a big difference,” the coach
said. “We’re going to have to be faster and
to win games on defense. That’s going to be
the deciding factor on how many games we
“Making sure that we still have the
leadership on the court, and just his
presence makes a difference in terms of
confidence,” he said.
P.J. Dozier said he is trying to still give
the squad the benefit of his leadership, and
motivate his teammates as much as he can.
“They see me like one of the coaches right
now,” he said. But the 17-year-old has no
plans of donning a suit and tie and watching
the Vikings go through the 2013-14 season
Despite the upside of this forced time off,
Dozier is looking forward to returning to
action for the Vikings and hopes to be
game-ready by January. Coach Dozier said the
Vikings are planning as if their star will
miss the season, so that if he returns at
any point, it will be a bonus.
“We’re going to do what we have to do and if
we can get him back, too, all the better,”
the coach said. “But we’ve got to have a
reason for him to come back.”