It’s not hard to see why Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is the name on everyone’s lips this AFL draft season.
The 18-year-old key forward from Framlingham, about 20 minutes out of Warrnambool, will be drafted in the first handful of picks on Wednesday night – potentially No.1.
So just what are the attributes that make Ugle-Hagan stand apart?
“Can I tell you the ones he doesn’t have?” the AFL’s national academy manager Tarkyn Lockyer said with a grin.
To name a few that Ugle-Hagan has: there’s the athleticism, the big leap and the eye for goal that have resulted in the Indigenous teenager compared to superstar Lance Franklin.
Those traits, combined with Ugle-Hagan’s work ethic, have the Western Bulldogs salivating at the prospect of being able to match any bid for their next generation academy prospect.
“He’s got some wonderful, wonderful attributes – he’s a great kid, really strong character, so I’m sure he can be a credit to whichever wherever he ends up,” Lockyer said.
“You know he’s going to attack any program that he can to the best of his abilities and the sky’s the limit hopefully.”
Last year, when Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson led Oakleigh to the NAB League premiership, a bottom-aged Ugle-Hagan made his mark as an athletic goal-kicker.
Despite this season being effectively a write-off due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ugle-Hagan retained his spot at the top of many 2020 draft boards.
“It’s (Franklin) a fair comparison. Indigenous boys who are left-footers and goal-kickers. He’s got a lot of class about him,” AFL talent ambassador Kevin Sheehan said.
“There were only glimpses of Buddy in his 17th year, Jamarra showed more than glimpses late in the year.
“In the finals for Oakleigh, in amongst Rowell and Anderson, this boy looked a star and was very exciting.
“We were looking forward to his 18th year so we’ve been denied that.
“I can see the comparisons, they are genuine ones and he’s a very balanced young man as well, which will give him every chance to succeed.”
Ugle-Hagan hasn’t shied away from the Franklin comparisons either, with the quietly confident youngster noting the Sydney ace is a player whose achievements he uses as a marker for his own goals.
“Everyone has that person you want to become, or even do better (than),” Ugle-Hagan said.
“But it’s just setting yourself a high goal to obviously do what’s best for me.
“I’d like to think that I can get there.”
Ugle-Hagan is modest about his hopes for next year – stressing his draft position is “just a number” – but said he has plenty of motivation to make an early impact.
He left home after earning a scholarship at Melbourne’s Scotch College and wants to inspire other Indigenous boys – including his four younger brothers – to make their own mark, on and off the footy field.
“Obviously at the moment, AFL footy is the dream because as a younger kid you want to play,” he said.
“But the other dream is obviously making younger Indigenous boys look up to me and get that opportunity I had – to go to Scotch College or just to knock down doors.”