Through It All

Luke Avdalovic

This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

Luke Avdalovic’s basketball story is about much more than just hard work.

He personifies a commitment to basketball that is unwavering and uncompromising.

The Folsom, California, native has come a long way in his lifelong devotion to the game of basketball. Growing up, he participated in a variety of sports as his parents thought it would be good for him — but Avdalovic always felt a special connection to the sport that would soon consume his life.

“It has always been my first love,” said Avdalovic.

“You can ask anyone that is close to me. It’s really the one thing in this world that I’m really passionate about, and I ran with it from the get-go.”

People of all backgrounds can admire his dedication to his craft and how he persevered through adversity.

During high school, Avdalovic dreamed of playing Division I basketball —the offers, however, didn’t come in. He had to get his head around the possibility of not playing college basketball and pursuing a different career path.

But one day, his high school coach told him about a potential walk-on opportunity at Northern Arizona University.

The coaching staff at Northern Arizona had reached out to Avdalovic’s coach and shared how they were still trying to add another player to their roster.

The rest is history.

“Everything unfolded in a crazy way,” Avdalovic said about his walk-on offer. “This opportunity was something I always dreamt of, so I ran with it.”

“Redshirting my first year was a very important experience. The pace of Division I basketball took some getting used to. But ultimately, I wanted to prove to myself that I belonged at that level. All I needed was a chance.”

In addition to the opportunity to play college basketball, Avdalovic was particularly grateful for Coach Murphy’s honest and transparent communication.

While Avdalovic was a member of the team, he was informed that he may not always get to travel with the team or get in extra repetitions after practices.

But instead of letting those messages bring him down, he took them as motivation.

Knowing that his time would eventually come, Avdalovic focused on everything he could control to prepare for year two.

The game that changed everything

During his second year with the Lumberjacks, Avdalovic would eventually get the shot he’s been waiting for.

In game eight of the season, Avdalovic finally saw some playing time.

“I had one of the best games in my college career,” he recalled. “We came up short in a game we weren’t supposed to win, but we were right in it. From then on, I was a starter and never looked back.”

Later that year, Avdalovic even received a scholarship — a turning point in his young college career.

“It was a very emotional day,” Avdalovic remembered. “If anything, it was a sign that I needed to work even harder now. I wanted to show people that they made the right decision.”

From walk-on to leader

After graduating from Northern Arizona University, Luke was ready for a new challenge. He transferred to the University of the Pacific, joining the team as the lone senior on the roster.

“I was a bit nervous coming in, wondering how they’ll view me,” Avdalovic said. “But from the very beginning, I could feel the mutual respect. The way they played and practiced — it didn’t take me long to fit in.”

The Tigers broadened their roster with additional transfers and new, hungry talent.

“I think we’re a dangerous combination,” Avdalovic said. “We have a lot to build off of, you know? 

One thing Avdalovic keeps referring to is the team’s ‘dog mentality,’ as he puts it.

“When teams play us, they know they’re going to be in for a dog fight,” Avdalovic said. “We’re all bought in, and we all embody that mindset.”

Avdalovic is convinced of having a great season with his teammates and hopes for some postseason action.

While unsure of his future path, Avdalovic wants to stay involved with the sport that has guided him from an early age. Whether that involvement takes the form of a professional career or coaching is up in the air.

For now, Avdalovic is solely focused on the current season, finishing his college career on a high note and earning his degree in Health, Exercise, and Sport Science.

I was a bit nervous coming in, wondering how they'll view me. But from the very beginning, I could feel the mutual respect. The way they played and practiced — it didn't take me long to fit in.

Trendsetter

Avdalovic wants to leave a lasting impact.

In hopes of motivating fellow athletes to not give up on their dreams, Avdalovic launched a podcast called “The Walk-On Pod” with Idaho State basketball player Tommy Ball and founder of KI Hoops, Jared Waters.

All three of these young men started their collegiate careers as walk-ons.

The goal is to shed some light on stories that aren’t spoken about much, and to give young men and women the extra push to follow through with their goals.

Whatever Avdalovic will add to his story in the near and far future, one thing is for certain — he will do everything in his power to reach his goals.