James Sicily (Western Jets)
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 76 kg
Player comparison: Jason Winderlich
Strengths: Marking, versatility, goal sense
Weaknesses: Defensive game, quite skinny,
Sicily is an intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. He has been the catalyst behind his young Western Jets team’s rise up the TAC Cup ladder and has flown under the radar but he is now starting to get the attention he deserves. Perhaps his performances in the Under 18s Championships where he averaged just 14 possessions left him behind a glut of others in the eyes of recruiters but his work for the Jets since then has been super.
Sicily is a medium sized midfielder who can go forward and be very threatening. You could argue that Sicily is the Jets best forward and his 20 goal haul for the season backs up this claim. He can take a very good mark, especially for his size, and he out-marks most midfielders who follow him down into the forward line. When he rests forward he is often the main target for the Jets and as a lead up option he is very competent, taking the ball out in front and using his body well to ensure the opponents can’t get a fist in. His real strength is his overhead marking. Sicily has a very good leap and strong hands so he can outmark most people when the ball comes in long and high. Even on a wet and miserable day at Wangaratta against the Murray Bushrangers, Sicily was consistently taking marks both out in front and above his head in extremely difficult conditions.
When playing in the midfield he provides the drive and class that helps to propel the ball into attack. While he doesn’t win a heap of his own ball, with inside ball winning duties mainly assigned to the bullocking Jake Greiser, he gets a lot of ball through the midfield and is a valuable link up player with the ball coming out of defence.
Sicily’s disposal is not exceptional but it is not poor. He doesn’t possess a penetrating 60 metre kick like Luke McDonald, but he hits most of his targets and doesn’t burn the ball. He gets a lot of possessions on the burst and has a tendency to try to kick it at top speed resulting in some of his longer kicks going a bit higher and loopier but this can easily be fixed.
Sicily is a very smart footballer and he makes decisions almost instantly. When he gets the ball he seems to know what he is going to do with it straight away which helps him focus on hitting targets or getting out of the congestion with a quick burst of speed. He rarely fumbles the ball, even in slippery conditions, and knows exactly how much time he has when he gets hold of the ball. Even when being tackled he doesn’t panic and knows he still has time to dispose of the ball.
Sicily is likely to settle as a high half forward at AFL level but he has the potential to move into a variety of positions. He could easily develop into a running wingman, outside midfielder or even play the quarterback role off the half back flank. He has a number of attributes, like his initial burst of speed and his marking, which will help him adapt to a number of positions and be a true utility.
Sicily was selected by the GWS Giants in the BFGN Rising Stars Phantom Draft because he can play anywhere on the ground and he provides a lot of versatility and x-factor. He is the type of player who will look even better when he is on a good team and doesn’t have to do a lot of the work by himself so in the next few years Sicily will get even better.