St Kilda have signed a 203cm former US college basketballer whose brother plays in the NFL and whose athletic capacity they predict will excite AFL fans.
Jason Holmes, a 23-year-old from Chicago whose older brother Andre plays with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, has been tested alongside other hopefuls at this week’s draft combine in Melbourne.
Saints head of football Chris Pelchen said learning the finer points of the game would be a gradual process for ruck prospect Holmes, a newcomer to the sport, but the athletic feats he displayed at the combine couldn’t be ignored.
“That’s exciting for not just Saints fans but all AFL people,” Pelchen told reporters.
“I think we all watch American sport with great interest and are obviously sometimes amazed by their athletic prowess.
“Jason comes from a basketball background, played at college level and I think he’ll bring some very interesting aspects to the game in terms of his athletic ability in the short term.”
Holmes has been signed as an international rookie for the next two seasons.
He’s the second international rookie for the Saints, who recruited New Zealander Joseph Baker-Thomas in April, while in Wellington for their Anzac Day clash with Sydney.
Holmes, who was introduced to the sport at a talent-spotting camp in the United States in April, said deciding to shelve his basketball career was a tough choice but he was committed to trying to make it in the AFL.
“My passion is to compete,” he said.
“Obviously I had time to think about what I want to do and I’m glad I did have that time and I wouldn’t be here if this wasn’t serious to me.”