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Clubs circle 205cm, 103kg former college basketballer

Michael Knoll won the FOS Williams Medal as the SANFL's best player against the WAFL. Picture: Getty Images - AFL,Draft,Tag-Draft,Richmond Tigers,Essendon Bombers
Michael Knoll won the FOS Williams Medal as the SANFL's best player against the WAFL. Picture: Getty Images

MATURE-AGE ruckman Michael Knoll says he's ready for the step-up to the AFL and has his fingers crossed he gets picked in the upcoming NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.

The 26-year-old is on the radar of AFL clubs, despite having only taken up football three years ago after making the transition from US college basketball.

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After learning the game with VFL club Box Hill from 2017-18, Knoll's stocks have risen since moving to South Adelaide this season.

The 205cm, 103kg big man was a standout performer in last weekend's state game against the WAFL, earning the FOS Williams Medal as the SANFL's best player in their victory at Optus Stadium.

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Knoll told AFL.com.au he feels he can contribute at the next level.

"Yeah, I do, I really do," Knoll said.

"I'm 26 now, so like most ruckmen, it's taken a bit longer for me to develop.

"This is my third year of footy, but I've learned a lot and I'm still learning a lot.

"I'm at a place where I could be put on an AFL list and play AFL games and really be able to compete for my team.

"I think in that sense, I'm ready for it, 100 per cent."

AFL clubs have taken notice, even after Knoll was overlooked from the list of 22 players who were shortlisted for medicals.

"I wasn't listed to get a medical, but there's been some AFL team interest since then," Knoll said.

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Essendon and Richmond are in need of adding ruck depth.

The Bombers are without rookie-listed ruckman Sam Draper for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Meanwhile, the Tigers are stretched thin having lost Toby Nankervis for 6-8 weeks with an adductor injury, while Shaun Grigg has retired.

Knoll is in strong form ahead of the draft.

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He had 15 disposals and 47 hitouts for South Adelaide against West Adelaide in round six, followed by 15 disposals and 31 hitouts for the SANFL representative side last weekend.

"I'm continuing to develop and that's something in my game that is important," he said.

"I'm never going to settle for, 'I'm good enough now', I want to continue to get better and better.

"Maybe there are other ruckmen that have more knowledge of the game because they've been there longer, but I'm going to be the hardest-working ruckman out there."

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Knoll played college basketball at St Ambrose University in Iowa for four seasons before returning to Australia.

He decided to have a crack at football, emailing the Box Hill Hawks to see if he could get an opportunity.

"I went from knowing nothing in footy to getting a decent grasp on the game," Knoll said.

"I worked with (Box Hill senior coach) Max Bailey a lot, and he was really valuable to teach me a lot of ruck craft.

"In my first few games, I hadn't played a game of footy before, so just running patterns and what was going on.

"To be able to play a few league games last year was a quick learning curve, but they really supported my transition from basketball to footy really well."

Knoll joined South Adelaide after the Panthers needed a ruckman to replace Keegan Brooksby, who was handed an AFL lifeline by West Coast.

"It would be bittersweet because I've grown to love the South Adelaide Football Club," Knoll said.

"I went to the club from word go and made my intentions clear that I want to be on an AFL list and I want to be playing AFL games.

"They're very supportive of that and they're not going to try and hold me back in any way."

The 2019 NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft will be broadcast LIVE on AFL.com.au, the AFL Live Official App and Fox Footy from 6.30pm AEST on Monday, May 27