North AdelaideNorth AdelaideMidfielder

#18

James Willis

height: 183cm

weight: 79kg

D.O.B: 10-07-2003

Leagues: SANFL Under 18s

Image Credit: Deb Curtis Photography via North Adelaide FC

POSITION: Midfielder/Forward

SNAPSHOT: "A dynamic footballer blessed with speed and power, Willis has the ability to impact the game from multiple positions."

Another product of SANFL club, North Adelaide, James Willis presents as one of the more versatile prospects in this year's draft class, boasting an impressive combination of speed, power and explosiveness. Splitting time between the midfield, wing and half-forward, Willis has performed at a high level in each of the roles he's been required to fill. A pillar of consistency for the Roosters' Under 18s side, Willis averaged 24 disposals and just shy of a goal a game throughout his 2021 campaign, which was rewarded with selection in South Australia's state Under 19's squad. Unfortunately, injury prevented Willis from securing a representative berth, but his form throughout the year earned him an AFL Draft Combine invite. A dominant performance in Round 9 against Sturt, where he won 35 possessions and kicked two goals, was perhaps only eclipsed by a 34-disposal and three-goal effort in his final appearance for the season, to stake his claim for an opportunity at AFL level.

STRENGTHS:

+ Versatility
+ Athleticism
+ Explosiveness
+ Scoreboard impact
+ Inside-outside balance

IMPROVEMENTS:

- Finishing
- Kicking at speed

Willis is a well built, hard running footballer who possesses a blend of speed and explosiveness which is quite unique for his size and frame. He combines these physical tools with an appetite for contested football that makes him a threat to impact every contest. Willis offers a balanced skillset through the midfield, capable of winning ground balls and contested possessions but equally effective on the outside where he can accelerate away from the contest and deliver to teammates. His wins at stoppages are typically high impact because of his ability to take possession of the football, exit the contest at pace, and deliver the ball with speed inside 50.

The depth in North Adelaide's midfield has given Willis some exposure in other roles, primarily across half-forward and on the wing, where his speed and ability to cover the ground has made him a dangerous contributor on the outside. Willis pushes hard up the ground to influence the contest but then works back intelligently into space, to be an attacking option. Using his speed and running ability to create separation from his opponent, Willis is capable of accumulating the football and is typically a steady user when given time and space.

When positioned in the forward half, Willis possesses real forward craft that has seen him have genuine scoreboard impact this season. He has the kicking power and penetration to finish from beyond 50 metres, the athleticism to elevate and out-mark his opponent, and the class to finish around his body. Willis registered 10 goals and 14 behinds from his 12 games this year, showing that while the scoring opportunities were plentiful, there's still room to improve his finishing in front of goal.

Willis' ability to be productive and fulfill multiple roles makes him an appealing prospect at the next level. Should he be given the opportunity, Willis would likely begin his AFL career across half-forward where his physical tools, competitiveness and forward craft will give him every chance to flourish.

DRAFT PROJECTION: Late/Rookie

SUMMARY:

If Willis is to find an AFL club next year it will likely be in the latter part of the National Draft or as a Rookie selection. His strong build and ability to succeed in a number of different roles suggests that he may be able to compete for a debut early if given the opportunity on an AFL list, but there is plenty he can iron out before then.

SANFL Under 18s

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC
2021North Adelaide1861062926100560466523101215.58.824.35.10.04.70.8103.1
Total-1861062926100560466523101215.58.824.35.10.04.70.8103.1
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