Royal Thomas made the most of his final season of college basketball.
Thomas, who helped lead the LaGrange Grangers to the state-championship game as a senior, enjoyed a standout senior season for Georgia College and State University.
Thomas was second on the team in scoring, and he was among the team leaders in a handful of other categories as well.
Georgia College’s season came to a close with a loss to Armstrong on March 1, and while the team had a disappointing 10-16 record, Thomas doesn’t look back with any regrets.
“It’s good to know that you gave it your all,” Thomas said. “That’s all you can do.”
Thomas, a guard, averaged 15.3 points per game, and he made 53 percent of his shots.
Thomas led the team in steals, was second in assists, was third in rebounding, and was second in minutes played.
Thomas had a career-high 26 points in a loss to North Georgia on Jan. 4.
Thomas’ best individual moment, though, came in a dramatic victory over Georgia Regents University-Augusta in January.
The Bobcats were down by a point when Thomas scored at the buzzer to give his team a 56-55 victory.
Moments earlier, Thomas missed a shot that would have given the Bobcats the lead, but they maintained possession when the ball went out of bounds with less than a second left.
“The ball when out of bounds with like 0.3 seconds left. And I went to the bench, and I was like, give me one more chance,” Thomas said. “They called the play up for me.”
Thomas caught the inbounds pass near the rim and put the ball in the basket as time expired.
Thomas earned a scholarship from Georgia College after helping lead LaGrange to the brink of a state championship in 2010.
At Georgia College, Thomas got a fair amount of playing time his first two seasons, but he didn’t make much of an impact on the stat line, averaging 1.4 points as a freshman, and 2.2 points as a sophomore.
Thomas became a much more critical part of the team as a junior, and he played in 26 games with 11 starts, and he averaged six points per game and was second on the team in steals and assists.
Heading into his senior season, Thomas knew his role would be a prominent one, and he was ready for the moment.
“You just have to wait your turn,” Thomas said. “I know that as long as I kept working that I was going to get my opportunity. And whenever I got it, I was going to take advantage of it. That was my whole thing going into my senior season.”
Looking back, Thomas said his time at Georgia College “definitely went by real fast for me,” and he said it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
“It was probably the greatest four years of my life as far as meeting new people, and getting an education, and playing ball, and just doing the things I love,” Thomas said.
Thomas, an education major who is on track to graduate this spring, had a lot of great experiences in college, and also at LaGrange High, particularly during his memorable senior season.
The Grangers only lost one game that season, and that was in the Class AAA state-championship game against Columbia.
“Coach (Mike) Pauley, he had an idea of the season we would have coming from our junior season and knowing that all of us were returning,” Thomas said. “We sat down and talked before the season, and we went into the season thinking there was no one that could beat us in the region.”
The Grangers had a perfect regular season, and then they won the region championship.
“After region, we went into the state playoffs, and coach Pauley told us y’all don’t have any choice but to go unbeaten now if y’all want to do what you have to do,” Thomas said. “We came up one game short, but I wouldn’t take it back for anything.”