On this day a year ago, there were some very nervous teenagers milling around the Gold Coast convention and Exhibition Centre, waiting to hear their names called out by an AFL club.
With six days to go until the 2014 draft, let’s have a quick look back at last year’s top 10 and where they are now.
1. Tom Boyd (GWS)
The key forward was pencilled in as the 2013 top pick from early on in 2013 and he was picked up as expected. After eight games with the Giants in his debut season, showing glimpses of potential, Boyd accepted a seven-year deal with the Western Bulldogs, as part of a trade for the Bulldogs’ captain, Ryan Griffen.
2. Josh Kelly (GWS)
An elite endurance athlete, Josh Kelly showed some exciting signs for the Giants in his debut season. Among the eight games he played, Kelly was nominated for the NAB AFL Rising Star Award for his Rd 3 pefrormance against Melbourne.
3. Jack Billings (St Kilda)
jack Billings worked his way into the St Kilda the team through 2014. After playing as the sub in Rd 1, Billings was dropped back to the VFL for a fortnight. Recalled for the Saints’ clash with Essendon in Round four, Billings played almost every game for the year from then on. That Round four match earned him a Rising Star nomination, after a three goal, 25 possession performance.
4. Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
Marcus Bontempelli has proven the most electrifying of the 2013 draft crop in the early stages of his career. “The Bont” booted a spectacular match-winning goal for the Buldogs against Melbourne. A favourite for the Rising Star award, Bontempelli finished second to Brisbane’s Lewis Taylor, with the pair split by just two points. One of the most talked about first-year players this season.
5. Kade Kolodjashnij (Gold Coast)
The man whose name proved the biggest challenge for anyone covering the draft last year, has proven himself in his debut season. A tall defender, Kolodjashnij played 18 games for the Gold Coast this season, with his Rd 10 effort earning him a Rising Star nomination. A hamstring strain interrupted the back end of his season, but he has been among the most impressive in pre-season so far.
6. Matt Scharenberg (Collingwood)
South Australian, Scharenberg, still looms as the most intriguing prospect in this top 10. Injuries have hindered the start to his career, with the teen requiring surgery before even beginning pre-season for the Magpies. He returned in the club’s VFL side through the year, but bad luck struck again when the Glenelg junior ruptured his Anterior cruciate ligament, forcing him to undergo a knee reconstruction.
7. James Aish (Brisbane Lions)
A member of South Australian football royalty, Aish slotted into his new Queensland home easily, playing almost every game in his debut season. The 2013 Norwood SANFL premiership player’s silky skills drew comparisons with Lions great Simon Black through an impressive season.
8. Luke McDonald (North Melbourne)
One of the top 10 who knew exactly what his fate was before the draft, McDonald was already overseas preparing for his AFL career on draft day. In Utah with the Kangaroos, having already been selected as a father-son pick, little changed for McDonald after draft day. McDonald played every game for North Melbourne this season and shapes as a long-term midfielder for North.
9. Christian Salem (Melbourne)
Salem took every opportunity in his debut season, after his first game in Rd 6 for the Demons. Starting as the sub in his first three matches, Salem made an impact, kicking a goal in every one. He lived every footballer’s dream in Rd 13 against Essendon, kicking the match-winning goal in the dying seconds of the match.
10. Nathan Freeman (Collingwood)
Like Scharenberg, Freeman’s debut year was hampered by injury, with a recurring hamstring issue preventing him from making his AFL debut. However, he has started the 2015 pre-season with a bang, winning Collingwood’s two kilometre time trial when the first to fourth year players returned to training earlier this month.