(Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media) Posted in Featured News , Front Page News , People of the SMJFL

Tonight is D-Day for the 2015 crop of AFL draft hopefuls.

And among them is the SMJFL’s own Harley Balic.

The former Mordi-Brae jet has long been touted as a top-20 draft choice. Harley starred at TAC Cup level this season with the Sandringham Dragons before standout performances in the Under 18 National Championships caught the attention of AFL recruiters.

But the smooth-moving forward/midfielder was very nearly lost to his other sporting love – basketball. A highly talented junior basketballer, Harley represented Victoria at the Under 16 titles and was in contention to make the Under 18 squad.

And there came a point where Harley knew he could no longer continue to play both sports if he wanted to reach the elite level.

The Herald Sun’s Riley Beverage recently wrote about Harley’s decision to ditch basketball and pursue a possible AFL career.

 

Read Riley Beverage’s Herald Sun article below.

 

IT was a decision Harley Balic dreaded, but one he always knew he would have to make eventually.

Representing his state in AFL and basketball, Balic was forced to decide between the two.

A long conversation with his mum and dad at the beginning of 2014 was the catalyst for choosing footy and, as he prepares to be drafted to an AFL club, he couldn’t be happier with his choice.

“I got to a stage where I was doing both at the same time and it got very strenuous,” Balic said.

“I started getting picked for a few more things than I normally would and a few more games and that’s when it clicked that it has to be one or the other.

“Once I matured as a person, I realised football was a more realistic goal than the dream of going to America and playing basketball.”

But basketball still plays a big part in Balic’s life.

In fact, he still describes winning the national championships with Vic Metro’s under-16s team as one of the best experiences in his young sporting career.

Meanwhile, his role as a point guard alongside Boomers hopefuls Tom Wilson and Dejan Vasiljevic in that team taught Balic valuable lessons about footy.

Much like Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury, who himself was a talented junior basketballer at the Australian Institute of Sport, Balic’s time and awareness in space holds his football skills in good stead.

And it’s Pendlebury who Balic looks up to the most when refining certain aspects of his game.

“I watch a lot of his tapes and, knowing he came from a basketball background, I watch him and see how good he is at moving through traffic and making things look easier than they are,” he says.

“When I go out, I try and do the same thing and get separation. In space and in traffic, I like weaving in and out and he’s definitely someone I idolise and who I hope I can be as good as one day.”

 

CLICK HERE to read the full Herald Sun article.

 

Live coverage of the 2015 NAB AFL Draft begins at 6:30pm on Fox Footy.