Luke Jackson poses for a photo at the Annual AFL draft profiles in Melbourne today. Picture by Wayne Taylor 2nd October 2019
Luke Jackson poses for a photo at the Annual AFL draft profiles in Melbourne today. Picture by Wayne Taylor 2nd October 2019

Dees ponder giant draft move

MELBOURNE have been urged to take the nation's best young ruck and key forward prospect with their prized No. 3 selection in this month's national draft.

Australian junior basketballer Luke Jackson has been likened to Collingwood superstar Brodie Grundy for his brilliant follow-up work at ground level.

And WA under-18 coach Peter Sumich said the 200cm big man also showed enormous upside as a marking target in attack, and would likely push for AFL selection early next season.

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He bolted up the draft boards after starring in the national carnival, averaging 37 hit-outs, 15 possessions, (11 contested), five clearances and three tackles a game to earn All-Australian honours.

At Melbourne, Jackson could help fill a void as a key forward in his first few years and eventually be groomed to take over from superstar ruckman Max Gawn, 27.

Sumich said Jackson was fiercely competitive.

"I see a lot of Grundy and Gawn in him because of his ability to really win the ball at ground level," Sumich said.

Jackson loves to win the footy at ground level. Pic: Wayne Taylor
Jackson loves to win the footy at ground level. Pic: Wayne Taylor

"He just loves to hunt the ball and he wants the ball in his hands.

"So he is a real competitor, he fights for it and chases it and he just doesn't like to get beat.

"And he's got a great leap, he can really get over the top of them (opponents).

"So, there's huge upside in him."

Jackson averaged 110 rankings points a game at the national under-18 championships, well ahead of the next best ruckman on 75, according to Champion Data.

Melbourne endured a disastrous 2019 campaign finishing third-last on the back of a preliminary final finish the year before.

But the Demons are eyeing Jackson and a secondary top-line talent at pick No. 8 (which it acquired from North Melbourne) to find a silver lining to the poor year.

Braydon Preuss (right) joined the Dees last year to help support Gawn in the ruck. Pic: Getty Images
Braydon Preuss (right) joined the Dees last year to help support Gawn in the ruck. Pic: Getty Images

Adelaide (pick four), Sydney (five) and Greater Western Sydney (six) have also shown interest in Jackson.

Sumich said the West Australian big man, who is vying to be the first ruckman to be drafted in the top-10 since former Brisbane Lion and St Kilda big man Billy Longer in 2011, was the perfect fit for the Dees.

"Earlier on in his (AFL) career I think he will be more of a forward-ruck, while he develops his ruck work and his timing," Sumich said.

"But he can play (AFL) next year. I wouldn't say that if I didn't think he would.

"A side like Melbourne, if they went for him, I think it would be ideal because I don't think Melbourne right now are going to win the premiership.

"They are building towards it and aren't far off it, and I think (they) can make the eight next year.

"So if they can get 8-12 games into him and it's a little bit of a learning curve, that could be the way to go because he will be flying the following year."

Melbourne is also considering throwing a curve ball at the Giants by bidding on GWS academy prospect Tom Green before a move on Jackson.

While the Demons are flush with hard nut on-ballers, they are known to have a strong interest in Green, who has been likened to Carlton superstar Patrick Cripps.

Jackson has represented Australia in basketball but made the big call earlier this year to commit fully to pursuing his AFL dream.

News Corp Australia


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