Canning Vale teen faces big decision between hoop dream or AFL goal

Willetton SHS student Luke Jackson will soon have to decide between chasing his AFL or basketball dream. Picture: Jon Hewson d474056
Willetton SHS student Luke Jackson will soon have to decide between chasing his AFL or basketball dream. Picture: Jon Hewson d474056

IT will not be long before Luke Jackson will have to make one of the biggest decisions of his young life.

Luke was just six years old when he followed in his older brothers’ footsteps and first started playing basketball, chasing it up just a few years later with a move into football.

It was not long before it became evident to those around him that he was a natural at both sports.

Now 16, Luke has become one of the premier young sportsmen in the country in both of the sports he loves.

The East Fremantle Football Club player has only been playing football for four years, but that has not stopped him being touted as a potential top 10 AFL draft pick in 2019, having earned a spot in the prestigious AFL Academy next year.

Luke Jackson was a star for the WA under-16 team that won the National Championship this year. Picture: Jon Hewson d474056

He is also one of the best young basketballers in the country, earning selection in the Australian under-16s team to compete at the Asia Championships.

In just two years Luke will have to make the choice only a handful of Australian athletes have made before him; whether to follow his passion into football or basketball.

But for now, he said he was happy to continue working hard in both.

“I have always dreamed of playing sport professionally and now more than ever I am going to keep working hard to make my dream a reality,” he said.

“People are always asking me what sport I would prefer or would choose and I am lucky enough that both sports work with each other and are helping me to keep playing both for as long as I can.

“I would love to get drafted in the AFL one day or the chance to play in US college basketball, the NBL or to continue to represent Australia.

“I am really thankful for having a family who help me with everything and coaches that help me reach my full potential.”

Having seen Luke in action last year, under-16 WA Metro State coach Tyrone Thwaites said he was one of “the most athletically gifted athletes” he had ever worked with.

“He is the best rebounder his age in the country because his timing is perfect,” he said.

“He’s also incredibly humble, a trait that’s not lost on anyone who works with him.

“He’s got a big 12 months ahead, he’s well placed to make the under-17 Australian world Championship team for 2018 after his under-16 Australian team involvement this year and he’s also a projected top 10 AFL draft pick, so he’s not short on options.”

Luke Jackson’s sporting accolades

Football: Best and fairest of the finals series for Willetton JFC in 2014
Football: League runner up best and fairest in 2015
Football: 2016 premiership with Bullcreek Leeming JFC in 2016
Football: Selected to the under-16 State team in 2017 where he won the National championship
Football: Selection to the 2018 AFL Academy Level 1 squad
Basketball: WABL championship winner for Willetton in under-12s, under-13s, under-14s and under-18s
Basketball: under-14 Club National Championship selection in 2014
Basketball: Selected to the under-16 State team in 2016 where he won bronze and the “player of the day” award twice
Basketball: Selected to the under-18 State team in 2017
Basketball: Named BWA Male WABL player of the Year in 2017
Basketball: Selected for the Australian under-16s team competing at the Asia Championships

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