20 players to watch ahead of the National Under 18 Championships

FOLLOWING up from the Draft Central May Power Rankings earlier in the month, we have listed 20 players to watch who are either in great form, have shown promising signs for the future, or who might be injured and have been highly touted prospects in the past. It is by no means a ranked or conclusive list, more a list of a further 20 names to keep an eye out for as the season goes on – and there are many more as well.

Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

Right up there in contention for the top ruck prospect in the draft with Western Australia’s Luke Jackson, Bryan has shot up the draft boards over the past 12 months, being included in the AFL Academy side which took on Casey Demons at the MCG earlier this year. He could be the fifth Oakleigh Chargers player in the top 30, and has great athletic talents and plenty of upside. Showed elite acceleration with 2.91 seconds in the 20m sprint and a 78cm running vertical jump.

Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

The midfielder/forward is so dangerous because he could be playing predominantly on a wing, but runs hard forward and knows where the goals are. On more than one occasion he has booted multiple majors after starting in the midfield, and can play as a small forward. Has a touch of class about him and also has the defensive attributes to boot.

Darcy Cassar (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Had a massive game in Round 8 with 41 disposals, and has been fairly consistent in a new role at half-back. Last year Cassar played along a wing and half-forward, but the inconsistencies he had there have seemed to ironed out playing behind the ball. He knows how to get to the right positions, puts the ball into damaging places and can take the game on with power. Great endurance as well with a 21.2 yo-yo test in the pre-season.

Will Day (West Adelaide/South Australia)

Has been a quiet achiever playing between West Adelaide and returning to school footy last weekend. Is a skilful user of the ball who can use his left or right side to dispose of it coming off half-back. Day can play forward as well, being a versatile player and one to watch.

Charlie Dean (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

More of a natural footballer rather than an athlete, Dean works hard on searching leads up the ground, but when inside 50, his leading pattens and marking is a highlight. He keeps his set shot routine relatively simple and gets results, and prior to heading to school football, was leading the NAB League Boys goalkicking. The top key forward prospect in the draft.

Liam Delahunty (GIANTS Academy/Allies)

Seems to be sliding under the radar, which will please the GWS GIANTS with so much focus on the sheer ball-winning ability of Tom Green. Delahunty has some nice traits and can play up either end, but is settled in attack. His statistics of 12.6 disposals, 5.6 marks and 2.2 goals from the Academy Series is nothing to scoff at, and while he wins a lot of his possessions on the lead, he continually presents and hits the scoreboard.

Thomson Dow (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

Might not come with the wraps of his brother Paddy, but Thomson Dow showed some great signs in a winning Bendigo Pioneers outfit before heading off to school football. Athletically he has a great leap, is agile and has a good endurance base which makes him a solid all-round prospect. A big year in school football and championships could see him be a draft bolter late in the year.

Emerson Jeka (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

Unfortunately suffered a knee injury on the MCG when the AFL Academy took on Casey Demons, coming off the back of some good football. Consistency has always been the question mark with the Jets tall, but the last quarter in the trial game for Vic Metro was a joy to behold as he almost won the game off his own boot. Not far away from returning and will be hoping to make an impact in the championships. Great athleticism for his size.

Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

The quiet achiever who has put in a big pre-season has a great vertical leap and a good endurance base. Maginness has flown under the radar in a highly talented Sandringham Dragons outfit, but still averaged 20 disposals and five tackles per game before his school football commitments. His role at the championships will be interesting, but he can use the ball and given the evenness of the Dragons squad, would not be a surprise to see him challenging for one of the first picked from there despite missing out on the AFL Academy.

Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Has spent time in the midfield for the Dragons, but is most damaging inside 50 with reading of the play away from stoppages and goal sense. Not the quickest player, but has terrific agility and elite endurance which makes him wear down his opponents and slip from their grasp. As a sub-180cm talent, expect Mahony to be more of a small forward at the next level, and he has the ability to make it in that position.

Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions/Allies)

A natural ball winner, Martyn stood out in the Brisbane Lions Academy side, and expect him to likely be the Lions’ first played bid on. He has strength at ground level or above his head, and can hit the scoreboard with a booming kick when forward. His field kicking can be errant at times, which is an area to clean up, but he is certainly one that the Lions – and other clubs – will be keeping an eye on this season.

Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

The Calder Cannons ball winner has been in good form of late, winning more contested ball than previously and is building that side of his game. He has terrific kicking skills when having time and space, and with the strength of Metro’s inside midfield brigade, the likes of Mott will benefit on the outside. Mott has clean hands and reads the stoppages well.

Jed McEntee (Sturt/South Australia)

A small uncompromising player who loves the contest, he is a natural inside midfielder who has had to play in other positions to show off his versatility. McEntee is one of South Australia’s more underrated prospects and has averaged 18.6 disposals, 3.6 clearances and 6.4 tackles thus far in season 2019. Will play a big role at the championships and has elite acceleration and agility which makes him so damaging around stoppages.

Josh Morris (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

The goalkicking sensation from Woodville-West Torrens has booted a remarkable 28.4 in just five games in the SANFL Under 18s, with no less than five majors per game. He has only reached double-figure possessions once in his six games, playing as a stay-at-home forward, but his speed off the mark has helped him win the ball and then his accurate set shot goalkicking has been consistent.

Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

The exciting half-forward is a natural footballer who plays on instincts in the forward half. He has struggled with consistency at times, but has built up some great former for Gippsland over the past month and will take that form into the Under 18 Championships. Phillips roams up the ground for his football, but can also play inside 50, with great goal sense and smarts. Has plenty of scope for the future and while quite raw, has potential to play midfield if required.

Kysaiah Pickett (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

Electrifying and exciting, Pickett is the nephew of Port Adelaide premiership star Byron, and has some freakish abilities around goal. He is an ever-present danger to defenders, and has shown a capability to play midfield as well, with elite agility of 7.88 seconds in pre-season. He also has a terrific vertical jump, and although is just a touch over 170cm, is good in the air for his size. Will be a small forward at the next level, and one who will come with a healthy highlight reel, having already booted six goals in a SANFL Reserves game last month.

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

If there was one player who has opened eyes with his ability to win the ball this season then it is certainly Rantall, averaging 26.6 disposals per game, and if you ignore the 14-disposal effort against Gold Coast SUNS Academy, then that is up to 28.7 per game from six matches. Rantall’s elite endurance – and by elite we are talking Sam Walsh/Bailey Smith territory – helps the Australian basketballer to burn off any opponent who comes his way over the four quarters. He can drift forward and kick goals, and is best when having no time and just playing off instinct. His kicking can be hit and miss, but when inside 50 can kick some terrific goals, and play inside or outside through the midfield, with lightning quick hands.

Trent Rivers (East Fremantle/Western Australia)

A good size at 189cm and 84kg, Rivers is a consistent player through the midfield, and has averaged 26.75 disposals and 5.75 marks this season in the WAFL Colts. While Jeremy Sharp and Luke Jackson get plenty of attention given their championships last year, Rivers is putting together a case to be the first or second selected from East Fremantle. A player to watch for the Sandgropers at the championships. A natural leader who thrives on the contested ball.

Deven Robertson (Perth/Western Australia)

Played all four National Under 18 Championship games for Western Australia last year as a bottom-ager, averaging 13.5 disposals and 6.5 tackles. Has had some massive ball-winning games at WAFL Colts level, including a 37-possession game against Claremont this season. Loves the contested ball and is another strong leader at the level. Potentially a first half of the draft prospect.

Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

Another Stingrays player who has flown under the radar, and does more than statistics will ever show. Weightman has a penetrating kick and is damaging inside 50. He can play through the midfield, but coming out of the square he looks dangerous and has terrific endurance which works over his opposition defenders. Just a player with plenty of tricks and one to watch over the coming months.

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