Posted: 3:53 p.m. Friday, July 18, 2014

Former Royal Palm Beach star Jon Octeus to play for UCLA



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Former Royal Palm Beach star Jon Octeus to play for UCLA photo
Former Royal Palm Beach guard Jon Octeus, shown in a 2010 game, will transfer from Colorado State to UCLA for his final season of college eligibility. Octeus averaged 13.4 points last season for the Rams. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
Jon Octeus photo
Ethan Miller
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 26: Jon Octeus #5 of the Colorado State Rams drives against the UNLV Rebels during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on February 26, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UNLV won 78-70. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

By Jodie Wagner

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

ROYAL PALM BEACH —

A 6-foot-1 stringbean of a kid who didn’t play AAU basketball like most of his Royal Palm Beach High School teammates, Jon Octeus attacted little attention from colleges during his senior season with the Wildcats.

Four years later, he is expected to play guard for 11-time national champion UCLA.

Octeus announced his decision to transfer last month following two seasons at Colorado State, where he was the Rams’ third-leading scorer as a senior. He will play for the Bruins as a graduate student.

“I wanted to give myself an opportunity to accomplish my goals, which is to be a professional basketball player,” said Octeus, who will be the first Palm Beach County athlete to play men’s basketball on scholarship at UCLA. “Once I finally decided to explore my options, a lot of offers came up and UCLA was the best fit.”

Getting from South Florida to southern California was not an easy journey, however.

Octeus, a three-year varsity player at Royal Palm Beach, averaged 13 points and six rebounds as a senior in 2009-10 and helped lead the Wildcats to the district semifinals as a No. 5 seed.

Yet he was not recruited despite the relentless efforts of his coach, Drew Quinn, to get Octeus scholarship offers. Octeus received just one offer out of high school — from St. Thomas University in Miami — and declined it.

“Four years ago, I was begging people to take a chance on a kid that I thought could develop and be a very good college player,” said Quinn, who now coaches at Palm Beach Gardens.

Ultimately, Octeus proved his coach right, though success didn’t come immediately.

He spent his freshman year at Garden City (Kan.) Community College, where his skills grew along with his size. Octeus, who did not play at the school but worked out with the team, grew 3 inches and gained about 35 pounds that year.

He transferred to Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Ill., the following season, and his game took off.

Octeus, now 22, averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists with the Warriors and drew attention from Division I college coaches.

He visited numerous schools, including Eastern Kentucky, Indiana State, Missouri State and Youngstown State before selecting Colorado State.

The Rams reached the NCAA Tournament the previous season, and Octeus was excited to get started with the team.

“Coach (Larry) Eustachy and his staff were recruiting me pretty much since I got to Wabash,” he said. “I built a good relationship with them.”

Colorado State made the NCAA tournament during Octeus’ first season there in 2012-13. He averaged 4.7 points that season, but played a much bigger role in the Rams’ offense this year.

Octeus was the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game for the 16-16 Rams. Following the season, he decided to change schools with a final year of eligibility remaining.

He visited Cincinnati, Missouri and UCLA before choosing the Bruins, who had three players taken in the first round of last month’s NBA Draft. Two were guards.

Octeus has high expectations for his only season at UCLA.

“I’m looking to start at point guard,” he said. “Coach (Steve) Alford runs two guards that can be interchangeable. I think I’ll fit in well at either of those spots. They’re a pretty young team but a very talented team.”

Quinn can’t wait to watch him play.

“As a coach, we see a lot of people who think success is just going to come,” he said. “Jon truly understands that if you want to be successful, you have to put in the time. He’s fully committed to that. He’s reached a very lofty place. He’s a guy who understands that even where he is, he’s not going to rest. He’s going to work harder to continue to prove people wrong.”

 
 

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