South Carolina Athletics often refers to itself as a family, but for a handful of Gamecocks, that title is more than figurative. Sons and daughters often choose to attend a parent’s college, but when that parent was a standout student-athlete at the university, the path can become murky for the next generation. Luckily for South Carolina, these Gamecocks made their way back to the “family” and were willing to absorb all that comes with following in their fathers’ footsteps.
“He didn’t really push me toward South Carolina,” said Justin McKie, a rising senior on the basketball team, whose father, B.J. (1995-99) earned All-America honors and is South Carolina’s all-time leading scorer. “Of course I had a love for it in watching videos of him play, and he took me to games when I was younger. He always left that up to me as my choice.”
“It was a great feeling when he decided to go to South Carolina,” B.J. McKie said. “To see him go where I went to school, and the school I love and care for, it was really a great feeling to think he was following my footsteps but also paving his own path.”
“I grew up as a huge Carolina fan,” said South Carolina assistant men’s golf coach Alex Hamilton, who also starred for the Gamecocks from 2002-2005. “My dad, Jim, played golf here (1968-72) and was a team captain. My mom went to school here, too. I grew up going to every football game from the time I was five years old. My parents didn’t push me into any one direction, though. At the end of the day, I just couldn’t see myself going anywhere else.”
“For him to come and play golf where I had played, that’s something pretty unique and special that a lot of fathers and sons can’t say they share,” Jim Hamilton said. “He was recruited by other schools, but I never once put any pressure on him to go to South Carolina. That was his decision.”
“I guess every father who played football would love to have his son follow him, but I didn’t put any pressure on him to go to South Carolina,” said Buddy Quarles (1984-1987), who was an offensive tackle for the Gamecocks, while son, Kelcy (2011-2013), played defensive tackle. “For him to go there, that was a real joy for me to go back and watch him play at the same school I did.”
Perry Dozier (1986-88) played basketball for the Gamecocks along with his twin brother, Terry. He has enjoyed seeing all three of his children attend South Carolina. His daughters, Amelia and Asia, have both graduated, with Asia (2012-2016) helping the women’s basketball team win three straight SEC Championships, and now his son, P.J., is a rising sophomore on the men’s basketball team.
“The decision to go to South Carolina was 100 percent up to them,” Perry Dozier said. “I actually made them look at other schools because I wanted them to be sure they were making the right choice. So they went through all that with different visits, and they came to the decision on their own.”
“We definitely bled garnet and black for a long time,” Asia Dozier said. “I’m sure there were plenty of pictures of us when we were younger in Gamecock paraphernalia. There wasn’t any extra pressure to come here because of our dad and our uncle’s career here.”
Zam Fredrick III (2007-2009) had a little bit of a different route in following his father’s footsteps as he transferred to South Carolina after playing his first two years at Georgia Tech. In addition to carrying the same first and last name as his father, who played at South Carolina from 1977-1981 and led the nation in scoring as a senior, Zam III wore the same number 20.
“Growing up, I thought about playing at the same school as my dad, but I kind of wanted to make my own name for myself,” said Zam Fredrick III. “That’s why I didn’t come to South Carolina at first. When I did come, I felt like I should have come here from the start. Everyone was so receptive. It was cool seeing his mural in (Colonial Life Arena) and seeing him recognized there. It felt like there was a lot to live up to, but I embraced it once I matured enough to know that everyone is their own name, and you shouldn’t try to be somebody that you’re not. I embraced the experience and I loved it.”
This next generation of Gamecocks may be following dad’s footsteps, but they don’t feel any pressure living in their father’s shadow as they’ve each dealt with it in their own way.
“I just wanted to start my own trail,” P.J. Dozier said. “It was my decision to come here and start something new. It’s definitely a blessing to follow his footsteps and come to the University of South Carolina. It’s a different team, and a different time period. I’m just trying to help build the program back up to a high level.”
“I never thought I was trying to live up to his standard or anything along those lines,” Alex Hamilton said. “I was just trying to do the best I could.”
“I wasn’t really concerned about comparisons because that is something he and I talked about,” B.J. McKie said. “The best advice I tried to pass along is just be true to you. You’re Justin McKie. You’re not B.J. McKie. Let everyone learn who you are. I think he has done that.”
B.J. McKie said he still gets recognized from time to time when he comes to watch Justin play at Colonial Life Arena, but in the end, he’s just a proud dad.
“Being Justin McKie’s dad is more fun,” B.J. McKie said. “I’ll take that 100 percent of the time. The biggest compliment I’ve gotten over the years is when someone says ‘you’re Justin’s dad’ instead of ‘you’re B.J. McKie’ or ‘Justin is your son.’ ”
P.J. was born with talent. I was one of those kids who had to work to be good. He just naturally has talent and has the work ethic to go along with it.Perry Dozier
That doesn’t mean that dad hasn’t made a huge impact on each of their lives.
“He had a huge impact on me personally as a man,” P.J. Dozier said. “He probably has made more of an impact on me personally than on the court. He always told me to do my best in everything that I do. He told me to give 110% all the time because you get out what you put in.”
“My dad was my teacher for my golf game for a very long time,” Alex Hamilton said. “I would say the most important thing he ever said to me was that he would always have my back, no matter what, and that I always made sure I was representing myself and my family in a way that he could have my back. So he just said to always remember who I was and where I came from. His impact on me is immeasurable. I hope one day I can grow up and be the kind of father, and the kind of husband that he is to my mom. Words can’t describe how much he means to me.”
“I was in the third grade and he told me, ‘Son, I know you’re young, but you have to be a man about everything that you do,’ ” Zam Fredrick III recalled. “He said that any choices I make, I have to be able to live with the consequences. So make sure you weigh the pros and the cons before you make a decision. As a man that was the best advice I ever got from him.”
“My dad and I have a very close relationship,” Justin McKie said. “He has guided me for my whole life, on and off the court. I go to him for advice on a lot things almost on a daily basis. He has always been a mentor to me. He has always shown me how to work hard, how to be disciplined, how to carry myself with class, and how to carry my last name with class. My dad’s impact on me was instilled when I was a little kid, and it will last for the rest of my life.”
Naturally, sports fans will always want to draw a comparison between the generations of Gamecocks, and that’s just fine.
“My Pops, I’ve never seen anybody shoot the ball the way he shot it,” Zam Fredrick III said. “We would play in different gyms in the summertime when I was growing up, and my father is the best shooter I have ever seen in my life. If we both played in our prime, he probably would win, but if I played good enough defense and he happened to miss, watch out. It’s funny because when he does miss, he looks at the rim like something happened to it.”
“If we played ‘horse,’ I might be able to get him,” B.J. McKie laughed. “I’m pretty sure right now if we played one-on-one, he would have the edge. He is much stronger and is in better shape. I won’t play him anymore, though. I know how to bow out gracefully like a retired boxer where I can say I’m still undefeated.”
“There’s not even a comparison,” Perry Dozier said. “I wouldn’t even try to play him. P.J. was born with talent. I was one of those kids who had to work to be good. He just naturally has talent and has the work ethic to go along with it. He surpassed me by a long shot, and as good as my brother Terry was, P.J. has surpassed him as well.”
“We had a talk about that (going head to head) one day,” Buddy Quarles laughed. “He said he would have kicked my butt, but I don’t think he could.”
As we celebrate our dads on Father’s Day, the patriarchs of these Gamecock broods are not only proud of their family legacy, but also of their alma mater, which continues to offer opportunities.
“We have a large family,” B.J. Mckie said. “So having Justin there gives us all a chance to have something to follow just like when I was playing. We’ve been doing it for such a long time, and the University of South Carolina is in our blood.”
“There are not a lot of people who can say they were able to play at the same school as their father and have some level of success doing it,” Zam Fredrick III said. “I’m very appreciative of every opportunity I had. We kind of did the same thing, but we did it in our own way based on the times that we were in.”