IT HAS been a busy year for Jackson Hately. His footy has rocketed him into first-round contention at Thursday night's NAB AFL Draft.
It has seen him debut at League level in the SANFL and become a consistent player, and his form also saw him named an All Australian after the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.
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Off the field Hately has also been flat out as the school captain at Trinity College in Adelaide, but it's a balancing act he feels has benefited his draft hopes.
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His father Nick is the principal at Trinity, and some recruiters rate Hately as one of the more impressive characters in this year's draft pool.
Hately started the season viewed mainly as an inside midfielder. His size – 190cm and 82kg – means that's generally what he does best and he averaged 23 disposals during SA's carnival playing in that ball-winning role.
But throughout the year he was given exposure in other places and showed he can also be played across half-forward and as a wingman.
The 18-year-old's games at senior level weren't token, either. He averaged nearly 19 disposals and a goal a game in 12 appearances for Central District's senior team, and he showed his size can be an advantage.
Hately isn't quick, so that can see the game get away from him at times. It's something hard to drastically improve so clubs will be aware he isn't going to be the flash-and-dash player.
With similar dimensions to Fremantle's David Mundy, Hately could grow into that type of midfielder who uses his size to create separation and pick up disposals through the midfield and present as a danger in attack.
Hately is most likely to be picked in the second half of the first round. Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Richmond and Brisbane could all consider Hately in that area of the draft.
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Quality tall and strong midfielders are hard to find so Hately will have his suitors in the early part of the draft. Can impact games with his size and also push forward to be a goalkicker.