Alex Condon (inset) was a member of WA's under-18 championships side in 2021. Pictures: 247Sports/AFL Photos

COLLINGWOOD has won the race for 212cm basketball talent Alex Condon, who has nominated the Magpies as his preferred club as a potential category B rookie signing. 

But it will see a unique arrangement for the West Australian talent, who has decided that the Magpies will be his first choice under the rookie rules should his pursuit of an NBA career end. 

Condon featured for Western Australia at the under-18 championships in mid-2021 and played for Claremont in the WAFL. He had been projected as a potential early first-round pick at last year's draft given his size and athleticism before deciding on basketball. 

DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news

The 18-year-old has accepted a scholarship with the University of Florida for his basketball talents and will forge ahead with that having recently participated in the Australian under-20 junior championships as he focuses on his basketball. 

It was there where a number of AFL clubs – including Collingwood, Sydney and Geelong – were in attendance watching Condon, who was eligible for the draft in 2022 but chose later in 2021 to stop playing footy so he could focus on basketball.

West Coast had also flagged an interest, with Hawthorn also in the mix throughout. Condon had considered nominating for the AFL draft last year and allowing a club to pick him up while he focused on his basketball, but chose against it.

The decision would allow him to be listed by the Magpies once his three-year stint not playing football at any level has passed, as per category B rookie rules. That three-year time would have been reached in mid-2024.  

Category B rookie rules allow clubs to pay players outside of the salary cap until they start playing games at the top level. It would be a similar arrangement to what was seen with Richmond and the Tigers' category B rookie Mate Colina, who played basketball in the US, should Condon decide to head down the category B pathway. 

Condon's call to choose the Pies as his potential landing spot was also shaped by coach Craig McRae's influence in Mason Cox's development, with the American import having been a category B success story.