24 in 2024: A look ahead to next year’s top prospects

WITH another draft done and dusted, it is time to look forward to next year and which prospects shape as defining the crop. In our annual piece, this time featuring 24 players to watch in 2024, we highlight some of the names to watch across a pool which promises to yield elite midfield talent.

>> FEATURED IN: 2023 AFL Draft Guide

24 IN 2024


Finn O’Sullivan
(Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)
Midfielder | 181cm | 30/05/2006

O’Sullivan is right at the pointy end in terms of 2024 draft prospects and has long been a standout, having taken out the Kevin Sheehan Medal at last year’s Under 16 national carnival. He’s a wonderfully well-rounded talent with few weaknesses; able to take marks overhead, impact on the inside and outside of the contest, and possessing a booming boot. He’s also the cousin of Carlton’s Sam Walsh.

>> FULL SQUAD: 2024 National Academy

Bo Allan (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
Defender | 188cm | 16/02/2006

Western Australia may have had an underwhelming Under 18 carnival this year, but Allan was a shining light for the future across all four games. He was utilised in defence and took the game on, but also did so in stints up forward for Peel. Allan averaged 13 touches and four marks across eight Colts games in 2023 and is one of the state’s top prospects for 2024.

Levi Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Midfielder | 179cm | 18/12/2006

It’s hard to shake the tag of being the brother of Will Ashcroft and son of Marcus, but Levi is doing as good a job as any of blazing his own trail. The Brisbane Lions father-son prospect is a midfielder with high level footy IQ and the work rate to match his smarts. It results in monster disposal hauls across all levels and Ashcroft has proven to be a big game player who takes on match-defining moments. He’s now a two-time Talent League premiership player.

Ben Camporeale (Glenelg/South Australia)
Midfielder | 184cm | 21/07/2006

Along with twin brother Lucas, Ben is father-son tied to Carlton for 2024 and has plenty of Blues fans excited. A lean type who covers the ground nicely, much like his father Scott, he has transitioned from wingman to on-baller with Glenelg this season. Camporeale averaged 25 disposals and four clearances per 13 SANFL Under 18 games in 2023 and kicks at high efficiency on his favoured right foot. He was best afield in the annual Futures game.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Malakai Champion (Subiaco/Western Australia)
Small Forward | 176cm | 17/05/2006

There are few more exciting players in full flight than Champion, who is capable of making opponents look silly with his turn of speed or by sitting on their heads for a speccy. The energetic small forward is crafty around goal but also helped connect Subiaco into attack this season by working high up the ground. He booted 22 majors in 14 WAFL Colts games, averaging 15 disposals and five marks.

Sid Draper (South Adelaide/South Australia)
Midfielder | 180cm | 05/07/2006

Draper may challenge to be the top of next year’s crop having compiled an outstanding bottom-age campaign. The speedy midfielder-forward took out state MVP honours at the Under 18 National Championships and broke through for a League berth, all before helping South Adelaide take out the SANFL Under 18 flag. He’s hard to lay a hand on and tested as the most agile player nationwide during preseason. A jet.

Jonty Faull (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
Tall Forward | 194cm | 01/02/2006

There’s some serious spring in the way Faull plays, and he enjoyed a stellar back-end of the Talent League season to make good on the glimpses he showed previously. Having had stints in the ruck at 194cm, he settled up forward and booted 13 of his overall 20 goals for the year in the last four games. He also bagged four for Vic Country’s Futures and is developing nicely.

Tom Gross (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Midfielder/Forward | 180cm | 15/09/2006

An explosive type though midfield and up forward, Gross catches the eye with his turn of speed and ability to rise for overhead marks. He’s the type of player who can hurt the opposition by taking metres and breaking the lines with long kicking. Talent League averages of 23 disposals, four marks and five inside 50s saw him recognised with a call up to the Vic Metro Under 18 squad.

Kade Herbert (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
Midfielder | 183cm | 03/04/2006

Another bottom-ager who broke through for a senior debut this year, Herbert impressed as a wing/forward for the Eagles. He also got to roll through midfield at state Under 18 level and has terrific smarts around the contest; able to navigate traffic with clean hands, composure, or an agile step. Herbert’s versatility is certainly a strength and he stepped up to each level this year.

Taj Hotton (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Forward | 180cm | 17/06/2006

Hotton is the brother of St Kilda’s Olli and son of former Blue and Magpie Trent, though is not father-son eligible for either club. The spring-heeled forward offers strong athletic upside and is crafty inside attacking 50 with the potential to develop his midfield acumen. He’s a low-possession, high-impact type who averaged 11 touches and nearly a goal per his seven Talent League games this year.

Zak Johnson (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
Midfielder | 185cm | 24/12/2006

Another top midfield talent out of Victoria, Johnson quickly established himself in Northern’s side and strung together a strong bottom-aged season consisting of 14 games. He averaged 21 disposals and booted 10 goals in that time, while also representing Vic Metro at Under 18 level. Johnson is a clever and composed on-baller who is difficult to pin down and often finds the right option out of a pack.

Isaac Kako (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
Small Forward | 175cm | 07/03/2006

Kako is like a bee in a bottle out on the footy field, darting in all directions with one target in mind. He’s a creative small forward with great evasive technique and the smarts to spot up tricky options inside 50, or even go for goal himself. The Essendon NGA prospect bagged 24 majors in 11 Talent League games, including a haul of seven, and began to work further up the ground as the year wore on.

Sam Lalor (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
Midfielder | 187cm | 30/08/2006

A bull-like inside midfielder who has drawn comparisons to Dustin Martin, Lalor has the power, strength, and number four guernsey to back that up. He’s as clean as anyone at the contest and can bring the ball to the outside in powerful bursts, while also proving capable of hitting the scoreboard when resting forward. He’s another who has already debuted for the Vic Country Under 18s.

Leonardo Lombard (Suns Academy/Queensland)
Midfielder | 178cm | 05/10/2006

Arguably Queensland’s top talent for next year, Lombard is already a well known quantity. He turned out once for the Allies and dominated in Queensland’s Futures clash with Vic Country, while averaging 25 disposals and five inside 50s across five Talent League games. Lombard’s hard running and inside-outside balance also earned him a VFL berth with the Suns, playing in the club’s premiership.

Samuel Marshall (Lions Academy/Sandringham Dragons/Queensland)
Midfielder | 185cm | 19/01/2006

Another hard-running midfielder to add to the list of on-ballers for 2024, Marshall has mixed his time with many squads this year. He boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus is tied to the Sandringham Dragons, but also turns out for the Lions Academy. He didn’t look out of place for the Allies or Brisbane VFL side either, picking up possessions at will on the wing or at centre bounces.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Christian Moraes (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
Midfielder | 182cm | 08/11/2006

Having missed out on Vic Metro Under 18 selection, Moraes starred in the Futures fixture and has been in incredible form for Eastern Ranges. Hailing from a basketball background, he’s a smooth mover with clean hands who thrives in attacking phases, carrying the ball at speed and with frequency. Moraes averaged 27 disposals in 16 Talent League games this year, including the Grand Final.

Noah Mraz (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
Tall Defender | 197cm | 20/02/2006

Mraz is among the top Victorian talls in next year’s crop and made good on a late berth with the Vic Country Under 18s. He also built nicely into the Talent League season, taking on roles in each third of the field for averages of 11 disposals and three marks in 12 games. Perhaps most settled down back with stints in the ruck, he’s a mobile type with clean skills and good mechanics at 197cm.

Harry O’Farrell (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
Tall Defender | 196cm | 03/05/2006

A versatile key position prospect, O’Farrell has predominantly played his representative and Talent League football down back, but also features up forward when turning out for St Kevin’s College in the APS competition. He only managed five games with Calder this season but earned a Vic Metro Under 18 berth and has some potential to harness as a top-ager next year.

Murphy Reid (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Midfielder/Forward | 181cm | 30/07/2006

While midfield minutes in Sandringham’s stacked engine room are hard to come by, Reid has taken his opportunities there well and made every post a winner up forward, too. He’s a super clean handler of the ball and composed in tight spots, doing his best work at the contest and translating those same smarts around goal. He averaged 20 touches and over a goal per his 10 Talent League games this year.

Jobe Shanahan (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)
Tall Utility | 192cm | 02/08/2006

Another Talent Leaguer with serious potential, Shanahan’s greatest strength is his aerial game. The 192cm Moama native has a clean set of hands and leaps at the ball so fluently – traits which translated to playing at either end of the ground. He also had stints in midfield, though one of his best games was up forward for NSW-ACT, where he put on a marking clinic and kicked three goals.

Josh Smillie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
Midfielder | 194cm | 17/05/2006

Likely among the top handful of prospects for next year, Smillie missed out on the Talent League Grand Final through injury but has done more than enough to prove his potential. The 194cm on-baller is a monster at the contest with his size, clean hands and high level footy IQ, all of which have been on display since his Under 16 carnival with Vic Metro last year. He’s a phenom at Under 18 level, too.

Jagga Smith (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Midfielder | 181cm | 28/01/2006

The headlines write themselves with Smith, who plays up to them with some of the slickest work of any midfielder in the pathway. While juggling school footy commitments, he averaged 30 disposals in 10 Talent League games and seamlessly stepped up to representative level with Vic Metro’s Under 18s. He’s lightly built, but clean and agile enough to take inside ball to the outer without being touched.

Luke Trainor (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
Defender | 193cm | 10/04/2006

Trainor is yet another bottom-ager who cracked Vic Metro’s Under 18 team this year and it’s easy to see why. He’s a versatile type at 193cm who can swing to either end of the ground, but arguably looks best as a third-up intercept defender. Trainor sparks rebounds with his aerial ability and distributive skills by foot, which were on show in consecutive 25-disposal games in the Talent League this season.

Tyler Welsh (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)
Tall Forward | 190cm | 15/08/2006

Another club-tied talent out of South Australia, Welsh is father-son eligible for Adelaide next year and will play for the Crows’ SANFL side. He burst onto the national stage with five goals against Vic Country and imposed himself on the SANFL Under 18s competition with 27 goals in 10 games before playing finals at Reserves level. Welsh plays above his height as a strong marking target but is also deceptively quick.

Image Credit: AFL Photos


It looks like being a bumper Victorian crop, with a few National Academy members narrowly missing the cut for out list. Slick Bendigo midfielder-forward Archer Day-Wicks, Dandenong Stingrays best and fairest runner-up Harvey Langford, and smooth Gippsland Power midfielder/defender Xavier Lindsay are among them.

Lindsay’s Power teammate Ricky Mentha also featured in the National intake and is a creative small forward set to excite, hailing from the Northern Territory. Tasmanian ruck Oliver Dean has potential, as does Swans Academy tall Joel Cochran, who played in this year’s Under 16 championships against Mentha.

It was difficult to overlook Vic Metro Under 18 representatives Nash King and Jesse Dattoli, both crafty midfielders who can hit the scoreboard. Bendigo wingman/defender Tobie Travaglia impressed as the region’s best and fairest as a bottom-ager, while GWV Rebels ruck Flynn Penry has potential to rise the ranks.

Along with Ben Camporeale, twin brother Lucas is right in Carlton’s sights via the father-son rule. There’s also Louie Montgomery and Rome Burgoyne over in South Australia, both of whom are tied to Port Adelaide. Speaking of club-tied talent, Queenslander Tom Gillett looks a likely key position type from the Lions Academy.

The pool looks a little shallow over in Western Australia, but Claremont small Austin van der Struyf has plenty of class which should hold up next year. Talented West Perth tall Kayle Gerreyn impressed as an over-ager at the Under 16 championships this year and may be a smokey for the Black Ducks going forward.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments