K rock Football

AFL dreaming for Doedee

Tom Doedee has gone from basketballer to potential AFL draftee in less than 12 months. Picture: BRIAN BARTLETT

Tom Doedee has gone from basketballer to potential AFL draftee in less than 12 months. Picture: BRIAN BARTLETT

IT is a fair accolade when AFL recruiters rate you as the best one-on-one defender in Victoria.

That’s the honour bestowed on Geelong Falcons’ backman Tom Doedee heading into the November 24 National Draft after a consistent season in the TAC Cup and also for Vic Country in the under-18 National Championships.

If Doedee does get drafted – and he’s rated by some boards as a chance of being taken as early as the second round – he’ll join the list of promising basketballers that have made the transition to AFL level.

The 18-year-old represented Vic Country at last year’s under-18 Australian basketball championships in Canberra and played local footy for St Joseph’s.

The Falcons monitored him over the season and invited him down to join the pre-season training squad over the summer.

But a series of injuries meant he almost didn’t make the cut. Once he got fit and was able to show the coaching staff what he could do, Doedee was slotted into centre half-back and never looked back.

“I didn’t enjoy basketball as much anymore,” Doedee said.

“I’d been playing it since I was six so I lost that passion for it and I thought I’d give Falcons a crack and if it didn’t work out I’d at least become a better footballer out of it.

“If I got cut I’d have a better fitness base than what I did so I thought I’d have a crack and it just evolved the way it did.

“(Coach) Andy (Allthorpe) and I talked before most trainings about how I had to get out on the track and show what I can do.”

In his 13 matches for the Falcons, Doedee averaged just under 12 possessions, four marks and three tackles a game, and AFL clubs would have also noted with interest that he won the award as the best player in their finals campaign.

At the recent AFL Draft Combine, Doedee finished in the top 10 for the agility run (8.19 seconds) and standing vertical jump (68cm).

At 188cm, Doedee can see similarities between his game and that of Hawthorn triple premiership defender Ben Stratton.

“In basketball, it’s obviously such a short court that as soon as you turn the ball over you’ve got to get on your bike,” Doedee said.

“That helped me transition to footy straight away so I’d be back on my man and just reading the play well.

“I was always hungry for a steal and ready to get the ball off in basketball so that’s pretty much helped me play as a one-one-one defender.

“What I need to work on more is to become an attacking defender, running off and having more of an influence on a game.”

Having spoken to 13 AFL clubs over the course of the year, Doedee admits sometimes he lies awake at night pondering what his football future will be later this month.

“It would incredible (to get drafted),” he said.

“I’m just waiting for school to finish so I can start putting in some hard yards and really make it more of a reality.”

Twitter: @GreenBradley