The fight from each person to pursue his or her dreams is what keeps Austin Pitts moving forward.
The 2018 Opelika graduate will pursue a walk-on opportunity with the University of Alabama with a tryout set for September.
A 5-foot-5 point guard, Pitts follows a “heart over height” motto that was instilled in him by his family. It’s been his family that has been by his side and supported each opportunity for him and is supporting his next step.
Though, the drive also comes from a personal commitment to fulfilling everything that Pitts wants for his future.
“I could sign and take two years at a JUCO or play prep, but I felt that was too easy and would be the easy way out,” Pitts said. “I embrace the grind; I like being in pain, not like hurt or bleeding, but I like diving on the floor and challenging other bigger players. Like when we play Auburn, I would be guarding Justin Brooks, but I wanted to guard Preston Cook. I wanted to take out a team’s best player.
“I’m setting myself up in a lot of ways. It’s not just, ‘Oh, he can still go to college and play.’ With my size, before the season, I had people looking at me before the season and saying, ‘He’s not going to do anything.’ I had like 10, 20-point games last season.”
Pitts has continuously pushed himself during his time at Opelika and during travel ball with the Auburn Raptors and eventually joining Team ICE and playing in HoopSeen tournaments in Atlanta.
He helped buoy Opelika to the Class 6A regional semifinals after winning the Area 6 championship. Through the year, Pitts averaged 8.1 points and 1.7 assists per game. Along the way he was also selected as a representative in the Alabama-Georgia All-Star game in March.
Again, it was the personal fight and commitment to self-improvement that pushed him forward.
“You’ve got to have that dog in you; I don’t care how big you are,” Pitts said. “You’ve always got to have that dog in you or you’ll get knocked down. When you train, whether it’s lifting weights or running, you’ve always got to go hard.
“I know some people give up because they feel too small; I don’t care, I swear I don’t. That will never stop me. My dad always put that in me. We always embrace heart over height and move with a purpose.”
When looking at Alabama and what the Crimson Tide return – they lost Collin Sexton the NBA while Braxton Key and Ar’Mond Davis transferred – Pitts has confidence in what he could add to the team and what he could learn from head coach Avery Johnson if he makes the team following the tryout.
“I know the game will get faster; I can adjust to that. I’ve played travel ball and HopeSeen tournaments against top players, that fast stuff won’t be all that crazy,” Pitt said. “Those tournaments in Atlanta at the Suwanee Complex, those guys are crazy. Coaches will be lined up along the sides and in front of you, coaches that you’ll see on TV. When I went through all of that with Preston (Cook), we came back and knew we had no reason but to get on everybody.
“Avery Johnson, he’s a good dude. I watch interviews of him and listen to him talk about his players and how he can help his players. I watch players talk about him; I want to be coached by that, I already know that when I make the team and whether it’s, God praying, the NBA or even overseas or somewhere else, I know he’ll have me in the best position I can be in.”
Beyond the court he also knows that he has provided a point of inspiration for others.
“Don’t quit, don’t give up. If you don’t get what you want, continue to chase your dreams,” Pitts said. “You can never have doubt. You’ve got to keep going, because even if you don’t get an offer, that’s not the end of it. If you don’t get an offer, you still have tryouts; every school hosts a tryout whether that’s JUCO, prep or four-year schools, they all have a tryout.”