DRAFT ANALYSIS: “One of the great stories of this year’s draft, Khamis is an athletic tall defender who intercepts and kicks extremely well.”
Buku Khamis is a late bloomer when it comes to football, but has developed at a break-neck speed over the past two seasons to become one of the leading tall prospects in this year’s draft pool.
Khamis pairs impressive athleticism with great ball skills and composure, fitting the mould of a new-age defender who can intercept and move the ball forward. Having impressed in his bottom age year with 16 games to place under his belt, Khamis continued along his upward trajectory this year and landed a spot in the Vic Metro squad. It was on the national stage that Khamis’ elite intercept marking and rebounding ability came to the fore, especially in Metro’s close win against the Allies where their half-backs got a good running game going. A member of the Western Bulldogs’ Next Generation Academy, it is not hard to see why Dogs fans have pronounced their excitement around the Western Jets product, who looks likely end up at Whitten Oval come November.
- Intercept marking
Khamis’ strengths are both abundant and obvious, which has helped in the way of having him catch the eye of recruiters. His athletic ability comes two-fold, with a striking vertical leap partnered by his strong endurance base. Add to that a good knack for the perfect positioning behind the ball and you have an elite intercept marking defender at the Under 18 level. While Khamis’ contested marking has taken a back seat over the past year with his average being halved to just 0.78 per TAC Cup game, it has allowed his work rate to shine as he was often the trusted outlet – finding space to receive and move the ball out of defence with 3.3 rebound 50’s per game.
Central to Khamis’ exceptional rebounding is his kicking efficiency, going at 81.4 per cent in the TAC Cup to be one of the rare players who goes at a better rate by foot, which is even more impressive once you consider that he kicks more often than he handballs. While he does kick short and link in defence a lot, Khamis holds the lowest clanger kick percentage out of all the combine invitees at just 2.7 per cent, showing the maturity and reliability essential to any defender beyond his years.
Khamis’ endurance base is also a massive bonus, as it is often something talls are made to improve on at the next level. While he isn’t the quickest across the ground, Khamis can cover a hell of a patch throughout a match and has games where he seems pop up everywhere in the back half. These profound strengths and his ability to control games make it clear that Khamis’ skillset is transferable to the AFL level, and they perfectly suit the type of player he has developed into.
- Game sense
While there’s a heap of areas that Khamis excels in, like any raw prospect there are a few patch ups that can be made before he has an impact at the next level. The style of Khamis’ play means that he is very good at winning the ball without constantly having an opponent to deal with, which sees him rarely engage in one-on-one battles. It might not necessarily be a weakness and he hasn’t been massively beaten yet, but Khamis can definitely build out his frame and ensure he is able to defend all types of forwards while engaging in his usual game. On that note, Khamis’ tackling numbers are also quite low for a defender, registering just over one per TAC Cup and National Championship game. Again, he has not been found out by it yet and it isn’t essential to his current style, but is an area he can bolster.
Another way Khamis can improve is in his game sense. He is strong in his positioning behind the ball and composure with it in hand, but struggles to adjust at times when the opposition is not always pumping the ball into his zone. This means that if he is starved of opportunity to intercept, he will not always find another way to impact the game when the ball is moved around him. Essentially, Khamis is a great offensive defender, but could become more prolific going the other way. These are things that will come naturally as he develops further and learns the game at an accelerated rate in an AFL setting.
DRAFT PROJECTION: 30-50
Buku Khamis is an exciting talent who possesses a natural athletic base and elite-level skills. While he is still raw, Khamis has improved at a ridiculous rate to really hone his craft and match his best traits to the kind of player he looks to be. With plenty of TAC Cup experience and decent shifts at the National Championships, the Western Jet has shown he is able to both dominate, and hang with the best this draft crop has to offer. There is still room for improvement, but Khamis looks highly likely to land at the Western Bulldogs as a member of their Next Generation Academy with a bid matched in the 30-50 range, with a high ceiling on his potential.
Under 18s Championships