With the 2009 football season approaching, along with it comes the deciding season for many U18 draft hopefuls. Based on 2008 form these are some of the names who I see as possible to definite draft candidates and ones to keep an eye out for during the U18 championships, the rest of the 2009 season and of course on the last Saturday of November:
Kane Lucas (East Fremantle) – Hard running, clean 189/ outside midfielder that makes good decisions with the football and has outstanding 2nd efforts. Received an AIS-AFL Scholarship in 2007 after an outstanding U16 carnival and was unlucky not to make the AA U18 team last year.
Anthony Morabito (Peel) – Athletic, strongly built, mobile 192/90 utility that has plenty of sexy attributes, but needs to get more of it. Played 3 games for WA in the 2008 U18 Championships - a hamstring injury prior to the carnival caused him to miss the first game and prevented him from playing more and being at full fitness.
Mitchell Duncan (East Perth) – Solidly built, hard running 187 utility that consistently makes good use of and decisions with the footy in his hands. Captained WA in the 2007 U16 championships, but had a ‘quietish’ U18 championships – mainly playing off HB, but very dominant at colts level despite not playing many games.
Brad Sheppard (East Fremantle) – Wiry, athletic medium defender. Played all games for WA in the 2008 U18 championships.
Clint Garlett (Swan Districts) – Nippy, evasive 175 running HFF/midfielder. Played some games for WA in the 2008 U18 championships, was part of Swan Districts premiership winning colts team and held an AIS-AFL scholarship from 2007, however missed out on getting drafted last year (eligible as a bottom aged player).
Mark Hutchings (East Perth) – Hard running, tough small inside midfielder without any significant standout attributes. Played some senior footy for East Perth at WAFL level and acquitted himself very well for a 17 year old.
Others to look out for: Xavier Foley - CHB, Travis Colyer - midfielder/small forward, Aaron Elari – small midfielder/flanker, Anthony Collica, Liam Smith, Michael Cooper, Chris Forsyth, Mitch Carter, Lance Daly – tall leading key forward, Dylan Bairstow, Chris Luff – ruckman/utility
Alex Carey (Glenelg) – Big bodied, courageous small inside midfielder. Was in the SA U18 squad last year, but didn’t make an appearance at the championships. Apparently an exceptional junior cricketer.
Matthew Thompson (Sturt) – Hard at it, powerful inside midfielder. Played a few fairly anonymous games in the U18 championships, however he showed outstanding form in the SANFL U19 competition in 2009 in the best players an amazing 13 out of 17 times.
Luke Tapscott – Big bodied small forward that is very strong overhead and has great nous for goals. Only played 2 U18 championships games but kicked 9 goals.
Dale Armstrong – Strong bodied, high possession winning 185 inside midfielder, with hit and disposal is hit and miss. Played all games for SA in the 2008 U18 Championships.
Others to look out for: Jack Trengove, Tyson Davis-Neale, Travis Lane – small forward, Matt Goldsworthy, Alex Wilson – small midfielder
Tom Scully (Dandenong Stingrays) – Livewire, smart, creative small inside/outside midfielder with an outstanding all-round game and range of attributes – close to the complete package. 2007 AA U18 and at this stage appears the leading contender for the no. 1 pick overall.
Jordan Gysberts (Eastern Ranges) – Tough, hard hitting, pacy tall inside 1st dibs midfielder. Played in the U18 championships last year and showed plenty of promise despite not winning a huge amount of the footy. Was also named in the TAC Cup team of the year on the bench.
Jack Fitzpatrick (Western Jets) – Competitive, athletic, mobile KPF that’s still growing into his body – will be interesting to see how he progresses in that area this year. Played some games during the U18 championships in 2008, but was inconsistent at TAC Cup level in 2009. A current AFL-AIS scholarship holder.
Jake Melksham (Western Jets) – Skinny, athletic medium flanker with very good footy smarts and decision making ability. Named in the Vic Metro squad for the 2008 U18 championships but did not play and struggled with injury last year and played school footy which limited his TAC Cup appearances, but showed plenty in 2007 as a 15/16 year old (part of Calder’s winning TAC Cup team) to get himself an AIS scholarships and suggest he’s one to watch in 2009.
Tom Hill (Northern Knights) – Skinny, mobile, athletic high grabbing ruckman/KPP. Passed up as a bottom ager in the 2008 draft, but not by far. If he improves his ball winning ability, game sense and physicaliy he’ll certainly be drafted this Novemeber – at the very least rookied.
Kyle Hartigan – No nonsense key defender with a strong aerial presence and ability. Finished 2nd in the Western Jets best and fairest last year. A current AFL –AIS scholarship holder.
Ben Griffiths – Athletic, high marking key forward that is very much potential over potential at this stage - looks good but yet to produce the big hauls. A current AFL-AIS scholarship holder.
Others to look out for: Rayner (Western Jets) – inside midfielder, Andrew Moore (Eastern Ranges), Liam Tobin (Sandringham), Sean Tighe, Daniel Talia, Zac Ledin
John Butcher (Gippsland Power) - Athletic, leading and marking key forward with strong marking skills and excellent all-round forward nous . Had an excellent 2008 U18 championships for an ineligible bottom aged key forward, amongst the top goal kickers overall. AIS-AFL Scholarship holder.
Allen Christensen (Geelong Falcons) - Quick, clean, clever, evasive outside midfielder/flanker. Played in the U18 championships last year, before injury and is a current AIS-AFL Scholarship holder.
Farren Priest (Murray Bushrangers) - Explosive inside midfielder that won the 2008 Morrish medallist (TAC Cup B&F award) and was part of Murray’s winning TAC Cup team.
Koby Stevens (Gippsland Power) – Powerful, big bodied goal kicking midfielder. AIS-AFL Scholarship holder as of last year and was named in the TAC Cup team of the year on a wing.
Ryan Bastinac (Dandenong Stingrays) – Skinny, but steady and smart high posession winning midfielder that does most things well. Was part of the Dandenong’s losing 2008 TAC Cup GF team and came equal 3rd in their best and fairest last year.
Ben Cunnington (Geelong Falcons) – Hard hitting, pacy running midfielder. Was in the VC U18 squad in 2008, but only played the one game with limited TOG.
Myles Pitt (Dandenong Stingrays) – Undersized key forward with very good overhead marking ability. Played in the 2008 TAC Cup GF.
Tom MacKenzie (Geelong Falcons) – Football smart, athletic key defender with the ability to swing forward.
Callum Bartlett (Geelong Falcons) – Damaging outside goal kicking small midfielder with plenty of pace and sharp footskills.
Others to look out for: Brad Mangan (Murray Bushrangers) – marking medium HFF, Luke Thompson (Geelong Falcons) – key defender, Nathan Vardy (Gippsland Power) – Ruckman, Andrew Hooper (North Ballarat Rebels) – small defender
Jesse Crichton – Very slight, dynamic/explosive, hard working inside midfielder that has very good vision in traffic. Played consistently well in the 2008 U18 championship for Tasmania and is a current AIS-AFL Scholarship holder.
Ryan Harwood –Clever, smooth inside midfielder with good vision in traffic. Performed well in the 2008 U18 championships and is an AIS-AFL academy player as of last year.
Joeseph Groenewegen – Raw, rangy, athletic, undersized ruckman that was still clearly growing into his body last year so will be interesting to see how much he’s progressed since. AIS-AFL academy player as of last year too.
Others to look out for: Daniel Archer – spoiling key defender, Marcus Davies – medium defender, Jamie Clippingdale -
Jeremy Kirkwood – Athletic, hard working, high possession winning defensive medium inside midfielder. Tagged Daniel Rich out of the NSW/ACT vs WA U18 championships game at Subiaco
Josh Duncan – High possession winning medium outside midfielder. Tied up to St Kilda via the NSW/ACT scholarship and was a solid performer in the U18 Championships last year.
Dylan McNeil – Hard working small inside midfielder with good vision, creativity and courage. Played in the U18 Championships last year and for Murray in the their winning 2008 TAC Cup winning premiership team
Taylor Duryea – Nippy small crumbing forward with some tricks that can push further up the ground. Played in the U18 Championships last year and for Murray in the their winning 2008 TAC Cup winning premiership team.
Declan Bevan – Strongly built key forward with a good pair of dukes. Played for Queensland in division 2 of the U18 championships last year and has an AIS-AFL scholarship.
... So there’s almost names already to keep your eyes peeled for in season 2008. I’m sure there’s a few I may have missed and there will undoubtedly be plenty more that will bob up between now and draft day.
Have I missed any that you think are promising prospects? Tell us more about them in the comments below.