Emerson Jeka might not have felt the love from the AFL community on Thursday night, but he certainly did on Friday when he was given the first class treatment.
Jeka, the Western Jets’ best key position prospect entering draft week, endured a frustrating two nights of the AFL national draft when he was overlooked.
The 18-year-old admitted he was “a bit emotional” about missing out on selection after being invited on night two as a draft guest.
Jeka’s AFL dream eventually came true when he was selected with pick nine by Hawthorn in the AFL rookie draft.
Later that day, Jeka was presented with his new jumper by Hawks senior coach Alastair Clarkson and Jet-turned-Hawk James Sicily at his family home.
Asked why he might have been overlooked in the national draft, Jeka was not sure.
“It’s an interesting question and I’m not really sure,” he said. “I thought I was going to get picked up.
“I was a bit injured, which might have affected my chances.
“On one night I was a bit emotional, the next day I was rapt, so it all went well.
“I’m over the moon and I can’t wait to get started.”
Jeka has the potential to be one of the steals of draft week because of his unique skill set.
The Altona Juniors under-17 premiership star stands at 197 centimetres and uses that to good effect in pack marking situations.
He is agile enough to create separation from defenders to mark strongly on the lead.
The icing on the cake is his ability to use the ball well on both sides of the body.
With most key position players taking time to develop, perhaps that is what saw him fall to the rookie draft.
With their depth in the big man stocks, Hawthorn can afford to give Jeka time to develop and may get a handy pay-off in the long run.
Jeka believes he is in the perfect place to succeed.
“It’s a winning team and has a great culture, with really good players, which can help me develop my game,” Jeka said.
“It does mean a lot to go to a good football club. “It might take me a couple of years to develop, but then I’ll be able to really show my stuff.”
Jeka was one of three Maribyrnong College students snared in AFL draft week.
Jets teammate Josh Honey landed at Carlton in the rookie draft, while Calder Cannons midfielder Sam Ramsay became a Carlton player through the national draft.