Leagues: NAB League Boys
Image Credit: Solstice Digital
SNAPSHOT: "A smooth-moving half-back who can roll through the midfield, Banks is a great decision maker with pinpoint kicking."
Sam Banks has been a highly-touted Tasmanian prospect for a number of years now since winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award for the Division 2 carnival at the 2019 AFL Under 16 Championships. Banks was a clear star for the Devils, and whilst the past two years have been tough on the Clarence ball-winner, he is a player who remains capable of being a really damaging asset when given the opportunity. With the right development, Banks is a player who in the future, could defy what is looming as a mid-to-late draft selection.
Banks is one of those players who just catches the eye. He does not need a lot of the ball to really impact a contest, and he is best utilised in a run-and-carry role, be it off a wing or half-back. He can play through the midfield as well, but his inside game is still an area which needs more consistency, and considering his ball use and decision making by foot, Banks is a player teams would rather be on the outside receiving, than wasting those talents burrowing in at ground level anyway. This season has been a bit of a write-off for Banks, who has had some injury issues that saw him play just four NAB League Boys games, and three Tasmanian State League (TSL) games for Clarence.
Banks' last game came on August 14, when he ran out for Clarence and helped the Roos upset Launceston. His full range of pinpoint kicking was on display, hitting targets over various distances. His consistency within games is still a question mark at times, with his involvement from quarter to quarter wavering, though when he is on, he is incredibly damaging and even if not opting to kick, he can open up the game with his line-breaking run, to give-and-go off half-back or in the middle to create scores in transition. Banks has that licence to hit the inboard pass, and his highlights package would be as impressive as any other player.
The areas to round out his game aside from the contested work inside include his defensive pressure, with Banks that receiver who, while he still can attack the contest, is ready to go and utilise that run and carry. Both these areas of improvement come with adding size to his frame, standing at just 73kg (season start). He is a good size at 187cm, and will be a player who can settle into half-back and drive his side forward, with Banks also being a capable marker. That is more his smarts to find space and burn off opponents in transition, but he is the player that teammates like getting the ball in the hands of. If he can get some continuity and is able to build on those knocks on his game, Banks is one who will be one to watch in the future.
DRAFT RANGE: 30-60
Sam Banks is the top Tasmanian prospect on offer, and at times opinions vary on where he might land. His strengths - decision making, kicking and athleticism - make him such a damaging prospect with ball-in-hand. Though his question marks - inside game and defensive pressure, amplified by a skinnier frame - are what have him lower down in the AFL Draft pecking order. He has shown enough of the journey to earn a higher draft spot than perhaps where he ends up, and could be a bargain pick for a club willing to iron out his areas of improvement and utilise his strengths.