Adelaide has its first-ever set of sisters after securing young South Australian star Jess Allan with pick No.8 in the 2017 AFL Women’s Draft. Jess, 18, is the younger sister of Crows premiership utility Sarah. Their father Keith played 69 games for SANFL club Central District between 1987 and 1992. An emerging leader, Jess captained the South Australian Under-18 team this year and was named vice-captain of the Allies. The All Australian ruck/forward was one of six players selected by the Crows on Wednesday.
X-factor midfielder/forward Eloise Jones joined Adelaide with pick No.24 in the draft. Jones played alongside Allan in the SA and Allies teams, also earning All-Australian selection. The 18-year-old former basketballer, who turned down a US College scholarship to pursue football, was named the Allies Most Valuable Player at the Under-18 National Championships.
BY RILEY BEVERIDGE - FOX SPORTS
AFLW Draft 2017: Eloise Jones hoping to follow in the footsteps of ‘incredible’ idol Erin Phillips
ELOISE Jones couldn’t have a better mentor waiting for her at Adelaide.
Just as skilful running the point as she is at eluding tacklers in the midfield, Jones was nearly lost to footy when she turned her attentions towards a basketball scholarship in the United States four years ago.
Having watched the likes of Erin Phillips dominate for the Opals and in the WNBA for years, Jones had found motivation in her quest to play basketball. Her mind was nearly made up.
Then came the introduction of the women’s league. All of a sudden, footy had a purpose again.
And in Phillips, who had also made the move back to footy, Jones had someone she could look up to.
“When I stopped in about 2013, women’s footy was going nowhere,” Jones tells foxfooty.com.au.
“There was no pathway and my parents really wanted me to focus on my basketball, because that can obviously take you somewhere.”
The timing was perfect for Jones.
Returning to footy seamlessly, the classy midfielder won MVP honours with both South Australia and the Allies in the national championships earlier this year.
That resulted in a second All-Australian guernsey for Jones, following the first guernsey she claimed back in 2013 — coincidentally when she last thought footy could be her way forward.
She’s now a certainty to land at the Crows with the club’s first pick in Wednesday’s AFLW draft.
And when she does, one of the first things she’ll do is seek out her new co-captain for advice.
“I’d really like some pointers on her weights program,” Jones laughs.
“She’s an incredible athlete. It would just be amazing to be able to work in the space around her.
“Growing up, I’d always watch her at the Olympics. She’s such a multi-talented person. Last year I just found it incredible how you can be so good at two sports.
“To make the Olympics team, then come back and absolutely smash everyone at the Crows, I think that’s just amazing. She’s an incredible athlete and I really do look up to her.”
But balancing the two can be quite tricky.
Although Phillips perfected the juggling act of footy and basketball, Jones found it more difficult.
“I was becoming a bit rough,” she laughs.
“I was taking people out, which probably wasn’t the best thing. I was trying to take a few speckies and I started getting fouled out.”
But Phillips won’t be Jones’ only mentor at the Crows.
Adelaide coach Bec Goddard has already made a lasting impression on the talented teenager, having led the Allies side Jones played for throughout the national championships in July.
Goddard rates Jones highly. And the respect between the two is mutual.
“She’s really lovely and she’s an amazing coach,” Jones says.
“I really like the way she coaches. She always looks for the best in people and she’s quite honest, which is obviously a good thing. She’s not going to lie to you.
“Every single person in that team responded really well to her.”
But while Jones is excited to start working with her new mentors, she’s keen to acknowledge those who have already provided motivation throughout her junior career.
Mainly, her mum and dad.
Jones credits her “footy nut” father for her love of both footy and Essendon. Growing up, she was constantly in Bombers gear. Even she describes herself as “a red and black child”.
So, how will she go supporting the Crows?
“Look,” she says, before pausing and bursting out in laughter.
The conversation goes no further. But Jones is more open talking about the influence of her parents.
“With footy and basketball, my parents have driven me pretty much everywhere,” she says.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am. I wouldn’t be able to get places. They’ve put a lot of time and effort into my sport and I think they almost feel the same emotions as I do.
“When something bad happens, they feel that disappointment. If something good happens, they get more excited than I do.
“Having that support network is really great. My whole family is really tight-knit and they’re all really supportive. My parents are absolutely stoked with the opportunity I’ve got.”
They’ll have even more reason to be excited come Wednesday’s AFLW draft.
As will Jones. From someone who didn’t believe footy could provide a future for her four years ago, the silky on-baller is now on the verge of becoming the league’s next big thing.
And she’s thankful for those who have paved the way for her footy journey.
“It’s really fortunate we have those girls who are that talented and who could prove that girls can play AFL,” Jones says.
“We’re here to play. We’re not bad at this. We really, really love this sport and we’re actually really good.”
Jackson Edwards was among the AFL Draft hopefuls put to the test at yesterday's State Combine at Prince Alfred College. Watch as the potential Crows father-son pick, attacks the Agility Test.
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