HE KICKED the best goal of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, took arguably the biggest mark of the SANFL season and has legitimately frightened defenders all year.
Now, Kysaiah Pickett is being tipped as the biggest bolter of the upcoming NAB AFL Draft.
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Pickett's standing within this year's pool has long been a point of contention among recruiters. But the electric 171cm small forward has since rocketed into first-round calculations, having been officially invited to the first night of the draft on November 27.
The Western Bulldogs – who hold pick No.13 – are heavily courting Pickett, while Melbourne is also interested in the smart goalkicker should it find a suitor to trade down from pick No.8.
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It follows a season where the South Australian exhilarated and entertained with his mercurial work inside 50, as well as nailing the basic fundamentals of a pressure small forward.
He caught the eye in round one of the SANFL reserves season, kicking six goals – and hauling down an extraordinary hanging mark, having leapt over his opponent through his sheer athleticism – in Woodville-West Torrens' victory over North Adelaide.
Fair mark taken by Kysaiah 'Kossie' Pickett on the weekend. The nephew of Byron kicked six in Woodville West Torrens' reserves win. One of SA's leading talents. pic.twitter.com/qqGTAqQinY— Callum Twomey (@CalTwomey) April 2, 2019
He then continued to dazzle in the national carnival, paddling the ball to himself before bending through a remarkable shot on the run from deep inside the forward pocket in South Australia's victory over Western Australia.
Both were emphatic and timely reminders of his quality, which have subsequently made AFL clubs with first-round draft picks sit up and take notice of his unique skillset.
"He's a bit like Cyril Rioli … he's the same sort of player," South Australia coach Tony Bamford told AFL.com.au.
"With his speed and his kicking, it's really tempting to get him through the middle of the ground. But it's hard to move him out of the forward line, because he kicks goals and he chases and tackles.
"His weapons suggest he's a small forward, but I still have visions of him playing through the midfield as well as he gets older."
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Pickett's immense speed and agility, as well as his eye-catching natural leap, are bound to make him a fan favourite at the next level. But it's his physicality and willingness to apply defensive pressure from the forward line that will make him a favourite among coaches.
You wouldn't expect anything less from the nephew of two-time premiership star and 2004 Norm Smith Medal winner Byron Pickett, who was among the most intimidating players of his era.
Pickett's menacing approach to the game has overwhelmed SANFL defenders throughout the season and has come despite his slender 71kg frame.
"He makes people shit themselves," Bamford said
"He actually gets off on it, as well. He likes to hurt blokes. He's done some unbelievable things, in terms of his off-the-ball blocks and his defensive efforts as a small forward.
"The body's not going to worry him, he's a tough kid.
He takes hits, he gives out hits. The body size and his age, it's not going to worry him one bit - Tony Bamford
Pickett hasn't necessarily been prolific throughout the season, while he has endured his frustrations as he develops as both an outside presence on the wing and as an inside ball winner through the midfield.
But clubs have recognised his qualities, as well as his resounding ability to turn the momentum of a match within an instant through his precocious talent.
That was evident in the aforementioned championships game against Western Australia, where his memorable goal – delivered in wet and slippery conditions – broke the game open for his side at a pivotal moment during a decisive third term.
"He's never really been a high possession winner … he's more about game impact than game stats," Bamford said.
"He has that ability to turn a game really quickly in a short period of time. AFL clubs are starting to realise he's not going to be a 25-possession player, he's more like a 12 or 15-type but with the ability to have some really big game moments.
"I don't think 'Kozzie' has had his best year, but if you look at what he's done over the last three years and if you body all of that together and look at his strengths as a footballer … it would not surprise me to see clubs putting him in the first round.
"He's probably the best small forward in the draft, he and Liam Henry."