Hot on the heels of Canadian Mike Pyke’s role in Sydney’s premiership win last weekend, a number of American athletes have made their way Down Under for this week's AFL Draft Combine in an attempt to impressive a club enough to draft them.
Yannick Crowder is one of them. A former NCAA four year college basketball player at Florida A&M, Crowder went unselected at the 2012 NBA draft. A former coach convinced him to try out for the professional ranks of a sport he hadn’t heard of.
"(My agent) sent me an email about this combine," Crowder said.
"I thought it was spam. I thought, 'What is this? I've never heard of this'.
Eric Wallace is a similar story. A basketballer from Winston-Salem in the US who played at Seattle University, Wallace was heading over to Europe to begin a professional career there until his agent told him of Pyke’s success story.
Pyke, Sydney’s second ruckman and now a stable in their best 22, gave up a rugby union international with Canada and moved to Australia at age 24.
"Four years ago he was in the same situation as me, not having played the game or even heard of the game," Wallace said.
"To work his butt off for four years and be one of the best players on the ground in the Grand Final — that's inspiring."
The States aren’t the only place providing talent at the combine. Three teenagers from the Pacific, Yoshi Harris from Nauru, and Brendan Beno and Gideon Simon from Papua New Guinea, are all at the combine.
All three have received scholarships from AFL clubs and Harris has even done enough to play a game for GWS’ reserve side while Beno has been training with the Brisbane Lions.
Crowder nor Wallace failed to make a huge impression on day two, but Simon of Papua New Guinean did.
The was the only one of the five international prospects listed here to make record a top-10 time in Tuesday’s athletics tests, coming eight in the repeat sprint exercise.
Adam Saad, big at 192cm, won the day’s 20m sprint with a time of 2.81 seconds.
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