Dillon Avare has been around Rick Pitino since he was an infant.
The son of Pitino's longtime financial advisor, Rick Avare, would attend practices and games as a youngster and was a regular at the University of Louisville summer basketball camps.
"I was always around," Avare said.
The younger Avare will be around even more next season as a walk-on with the Cardinals. He'll join North Oldham guard David Levitch as walk-ons for next season and is one of four players competing this weekend in the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic to be played on Friday at Freedom Hall.
"It's pretty crazy for me and I'm really excited," Avare said. "Looking at the rosters (for the Derby Classic) and all the colleges these guys are going too, it's crazy seeing all of that talent. It's going to be fun."
The 5-foot-10 Avare hit 82 three-pointers and averaged 11.2 points a game for the Knights during his senior season. He hit around 35 percent from three-point range for LexCath.
Avare was looking at several other options to attend college but said he was "so excited" when Pitino asked him to walk-on.
"I am going to the best team in the country and playing for a Hall of Fame coach," he said. "I couldn't ask for anything better."
The younger Avare said his father and Rick Pitino have been friends "probably since a little bit before I was born." He's spent a lot of time with Pitino growing up.
"I would always go to the Louisville camp, I was always Louisville fan, and I was always wearing Louisville shirts,: he said. "But I never thought I would have the opportunity to play under him. But he gave me that opportunity.
"I'm just so excited to get there."
Avare said watching the U of L run to the national title this season was "crazy" and also eye-opening for him. He took note that walk-on Tim Henderson was pressed into service and hit two three-pointers in crunch time during the semifinal game against Wichita State.
That was a good feeling, knowing that you have to be ready for every opportunity," he said. "Tim was ready. That was fun to see."
Avare said he's also excited that he'll have Levitch with him through the process. The two played on the same AAU team for a year when they were younger.
"It would be harder going into it alone," he said. "So knowing David is there with me will be good. It will be nice to have him there also."