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Late bloomer looms as draft tall order

Charlie Ballard is firming as a top-30 draft pick - AFL,Draft,Draft Combine
Charlie Ballard is firming as a top-30 draft pick

SOUTH Australian midfielder Charlie Ballard has flown under the radar for most of the season but is attracting attention as a possible top-30 selection at this month's NAB AFL Draft.

Ballard caught the eye for his state during the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, when he averaged 18 disposals across the four games playing on the wing.

But he continued to impress later in the season, playing in Sturt's under-18 premiership and the following week stepping up to feature in its reserves flag win.

At 195cm, Ballard is tall for a midfielder, which appeals to clubs, who believe the 18-year-old will feature in the second round at the draft on November 24.

For his size he is skillful and also swift by foot, running 3.05 seconds over 20m at the draft combine last month.

It hasn't always been the way for Ballard, however, after he grew 15cm in less than two years to transform his game.

Geelong, Greater Western Sydney and St Kilda could all consider Ballard with their second-round selections.

His Sturt teammate Jordan Houlahan also pushed himself into consideration for the first 20 picks on draft night after also playing in his club's under-18 and reserves flags.

Houlahan is a high-flying medium forward who is exciting in the air and dangerous at ground level.

Sydney has been linked as a possible suitor for the 18-year-old, who performed well in the jumps tests at the recent draft combine.

The pair are among four prospects from their state who are considered possible top-30 selections at the draft, alongside potential top-10 pick Darcy Fogarty and defender Harrison Petty.

Petty has also risen up draft boards after an impressive season that saw him win All Australian honours at the under-18 carnival.