St Kilda have signed their third New Zealand AFL hopeful with the acquisition of Christchurch teenager Barclay Miller on an international scholarship.
The 16-year-old is a junior basketball and rugby star, and joins Porirua’s Joe Baker-Thomas and Auckland’s Giovanni Mountain-Silbery on the Saints’ production line.
Miller, a year 12 student at Christchurch’s Middleton Grange School, stands 1.95m and weighs 85kg.
St Kilda recruiting and list manager Tony Elshaug said the Saints had been keeping a close watch on Miller for the past six months.
“Barclay has shown some impressive athletic attributes that we are confident will be transferred into football,” Elshaug said.
“He was slam dunking at age 14 and dealing with being double teamed throughout his basketball days. He shows great awareness and agility and we are looking forward to developing him through the AFL system.”
Miller will remain in Christchurch this year where he will be working closely with recently appointed AFL New Zealand head coach Andrew Congalton.
Miller was a member of Mark Dickel’s Canterbury Rams squad for the 2015 National Basketball League season.
The decision to throw his lot in with AFL was not too hard.
“It wasn’t easy but I did a lot of thinking and I thought it was the best option,” Miller said.
“I just like how it is similar to basketball. It looks like a pretty fun game to play. I’ve been watching lots of game footage.
“I’ve got a coach down in Christchurch that they’ve found for me.
“It’s a great opportunity.”
Miller’s signing further strengthens St Kilda’s ties with New Zealand ahead of the third annual Anzac Day game against Carlton at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.
St Kilda chief executive Matt Finnis said Miller had the raw tools to succeed in AFL.
“We’d like to turn him into a future AFL star,” Finnis said.
“Today is really just the beginning of what will hopefully be a long journey. He’ll get one-on-one skills tuition in Christchurch and access to ongoing testing and medical support. We’ve got an American college basketballer [Jason Holmes] who is likely to make his AFL debut this year. AFL players come from a variety of backgrounds.
“If you’re prepared to work hard and develop your skills, then a very well rewarded professional sporting career lies ahead.”
– The Dominion Post