Oleg Markov (North Adelaide)
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 70 kg
Areas of improvement: Accumulation
Player comparison: Dean Towers
The son of Australian outdoor pole vault record holder Dmitri Markov, the Belarusian born Markov is an interesting story and one of the biggest unknowns in the draft. Having broken his collarbone twice in 2014, Markov missed the National Championships and only recently got back on the park in the SANFL under 18s. Despite his year to forget, he still secured an invite to the national combine such is his athletic talent.
Markov’s major strength is his athleticism. At 187 cm, he has played predominantly as an outside mid in his career so far but he can also play off a back flank or forward. He runs the 20 metre sprint in 2.92 seconds, has a beep test above 15 and is also in the top echelon for the vertical leap. It’s very rare for someone to have such an incredible speed, fitness and leap combination and Markov does.He also has school records in both the high jump and the long jump.
With ball in hand Markov generally makes good decisions and is technically a sound kick. He’s not someone that’s going to break sides open with his kicking but he’d be one of the better kicks in a side at peak. At under 16 level he kicked 19 goals in 6 games which indicates some level of forward ability, just one that we haven’t seen due to injuries and positioning.
The knock on Markov is all to do with performance. At the start of the year his name was mentioned but he was hardly considered a top prospect. As one of those lower down speculative type prospects it’s important to play a solid year of football in your draft year, a player can’t just get away with a long term injury like the top prospects can and still be selected.
In missing the championships and a considerable portion of the SANFL season, Markov has very little exposed form. Since returning, Markov has played in the SANFL under 18s and hasn’t really imposed himself, only accumulating between 10-20 possessions a game and has not featured in the bests across his five week stretch of games.
The concern is that if Markov isn’t excelling in the under 18s or finding much of the ball, what could he do at the significantly higher level that AFL?Most South Australian draft prospects are playing league or reserves football, so for Markov to really put his name forward he’d at least have wanted to find more of the ball and impose himself more in the under 18s.
Markov has a lot in common with Laine Wilkins, a prospect from two years ago who was an exciting wingman with freak athleticism, with his speed and leap a particular highlight. However Wilkins was passed over despite being an expected draftee, a fate Markov will be eager to avoid.
As for a current comparison, Dean Towers is someone who too shares a lot in common with Markov. Both are quick and dynamic tall midfielders with an incredible vertical leap, both are late bloomers and both struggle to find the ball and impact games despite their athleticism.
The best case for Markov is that he ends up at a similar level to Will Hoskin-Elliott. Both are relatively tall wingmen/forwards who have that rare speed, endurance and leap combination and both projected as late bloomers.
While there is still a lot of water to go under the bridge and Markov is by no means a similar level junior to Hoskin-Elliott, with some time, the right development and some application, Markov could develop at a similar rate and play a similar role to Hoskin-Elliott in the AFL.