Octavius "OCT" Thomas
Featured in this photo on the (LEFT) Octavius Thomas and (RIGHT) Decatur High and UGA point guard Melvin “Hollywood” Howard these are the best 2-point guards to ever grace the hardwood courts from the Metropolitan Atlanta area.
If OST247, Overtime, and Slam were around during the late 80s and early 90s they would have been flocking to a small high school on the westside of Atlanta, Georgia called Walter F. George High School. To witness one of the best high school basketball players to ever come out of the state of Georgia. Known simple as “Oct”, to all Georgia basketball aficionados and players who have played against him or heard the stories Octavious Thomas had a cult following similar to Benji Wilson in Chicago, Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell in Los Angeles, and Earl Manigault in New York.
Thomas was six-foot one left-handed guard who could get where ever and score with the best of them. He had the blazing speed of Kyrie Irving, with Russell Westbrook fire, and Dame Lillard’s ability to take the game over from the point guard position. Thomas only played three years of high school basketball as was considered by the end of his junior year as the #2 point guard in the country in 1991-1992, who was #1 that year a fella from Oakland California by the name of Jason Kidd. Thomas had a chance to prove why he should be number one during the summer of 1992, in Las Vegas in front of many Division 1 college coaches, including UNLV’s legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian. The result was Jason Kidd finished with 27 points, while Thomas finished with an amazing 52 points and was vaulted into the national spotlight as the number #2-point guard in the country. Unfortunately, due to academic issues, he was not eligible his senior season causing him to not attend college. The legend of Thomas considered by many to be the best NBA or High School player to come through Georgia is still talked about even 28 years later. Stats that support these claims, was as a junior at George High School he averaged 37.9 ppg and 10.8 ast. During the state tournament he scored 49 vs Lafayette, 33 vs Gainesville, 34 vs Seminole County, and in the championship game vs Mitchell-Baker he scored 24 points in a one-point loss 71-70.
The legend of “Oct” continued to grow, one of best stories I can remember was Thomas showing up to a game at halftime, eating a hot dog and finished the game with 30 points in the 2nd HALF. What about the time a Division One basketball coach was recruiting a kid at the famed Run N Shoot gym and overheard some guys talking and offered Thomas a scholarship instead of the guy he came to see on the spot.
Thomas was even asked to scrimmage as part of the McDonald’s All-American game. Rumor was Thomas was even offered a 10-day contract by the Atlanta Hawks. While these rumors or stories seem so farfetched, if you watched Thomas you knew these things were true. At the time that Street and Smith’s magazine only wrote small articles about high school basketball, they had a profile on Thomas which was rare for a kid from the westside of Atlanta have an article in a national magazine.
The craziest rumor about Thomas was told to me by former Georgia Tech and Southside High School legend James Forrest. Forrest said that Thomas was locked away in a local jail and was playing ball, The POWERS to be requested that they got him released so that they would have some of the best players to practice(scrimmage) against the 1996 Dream Team at Peachtree Athletic Club. The team consisted of guys like Gary Payton, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal just to name a few.
Why would this be so believable the team had some local flavor and guys who were familiar with Thomas legendary status in the city with Lenny Wilkens whom was the Head Coach of the 1996 Dream Team and the Atlanta Hawks and one of his assistants was Bobby Cremins, Head Coach of Georgia Tech at the time. Atlanta has been graced by many great college and NBA players over time, Thomas has been considered one of the best to ever do it in the Peach State.