James Aish (Norwood)
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 74 kg
Player comparison: Trent Cotchin
Strengths: Elite disposal, fantastic awareness, classy
Weaknesses: Strength, versatility
James Aish was one player who was considered to be the number one selection a fair way out from the National Draft. He’s got the whole package as a midfielder – elite disposal, fantastic awareness and good athleticism. While Greater Western Sydney may have cooled on the idea of selecting Aish should it hold onto the first pick, Aish is unlikely to slip outside the top five due to his unbelievable ball use and vision in traffic.
Despite missing most of the 2013 SANFL season following shoulder surgery, Aish is one player that came back in and barely missed a beat. While he wasn’t racking up the numbers at the Under 18s Championships like fellow top prospects Domenic Sheed, Josh Kelly or teammate Matt Scharenberg, Aish made his lethal boot do the talking, finishing with the highest disposal efficiency of any player.
Of the teams in the bottom five, Melbourne are the team most in need of his services. It is not surprising that he was selected at pick two in the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars draft because of his ability to change a game with less disposals. Aish has that Trent Cotchin look about him the way he rarely wastes a disposal and can hit up targets with so much class and poise.
While he is one of the more complete midfielders in the draft, Aish’s main worries include strength and versatility. Aish will no doubt spend a year in the gym bulking up his light frame so he won’t be pushed off the ball in contested situations. In terms of versatility, it isn’t to say Aish can’t play in other positions, more a case of he’s never had a chance to given his superb ball use in the middle. Unlike a Billy Hartung or Dominic Sheed who impact the scoreboard from the midfield, Aish is more about finding a target inside 50 which he does with class.
A member of the AIS Academy, Aish was considered a top prospect for a few years after a great season as a bottom-ager last year. Despite shoulder problems, Aish hasn’t lost any of his draft-able qualities and he will no doubt be a top five pick again. Aish’s consistency in the middle and his ability to run both ways as well as find his own ball helps his case significantly.
With so many talented teenagers in the South Australian midfield, Aish is the best of them and with his skills, awareness and class, he will become a star at AFL level. Melbourne would be very keen on gaining his services to add to an improving midfield where he can join fellow South Australian Jimmy Toumpas and hard nut Jack Viney to provide a talented midfield for years to come. If Melbourne can gain another outside classy runner with their next pick, they will begin to see results sooner rather than later.
James Aish could well still be the number one selection and head to Greater Western Sydney. But like Scharenberg, if the number one pick is traded, it is assumed that Tom Boyd will be selected and therefore Aish will be snaffled up by the Demons at pick two. If the mail is true and the hints by exiting GWS coach Kevin Sheedy are correct and Scharenberg is selected with pick one, then regardless of whether the pick is traded or not, Aish will be there at pick two.
It will be down to Melbourne whether they elect to pick Aish or go for a Victorian in Josh Kelly. Both have similar elite skills and class but Aish has been the more consistent one thus far. At this stage, Aish would be the pick to select for Melbourne with selection number two and become a fan favourite with his sublime skills and delivery to the likes of Mitch Clark and Jesse Hogan.