2016 has been a long time coming for GC SUNS academy prospect Jack Bowes.
After spending his past four years in the academy, the 17-year-old is finally of draft age and based on current phantom drafts, the Cairns product looks set to be selected in the first round of November’s National Draft.
Bowes has been one of seven academy talents training with the main playing group at Metricon Stadium since early December, an experience he described to SUNS TV as ‘awesome’.
“Being around such an elite environment really gives you that insight of what it’s like to be an AFL player and just the grind they go through day-to-day and week-to-week,” Bowes said.
“How they get up for training each and every day is eye-opening and it’s something myself and all the academy boys really strive to be like.”
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On Tuesday morning, Bowes will be one of 33 players in the NAB AFL Academy squad flying to Florida for an eight-day high-intensity training camp at the IMG Academy, under the watchful eye of former Crows mentor and now AFL Academy coach Brenton Sanderson.
Alongside fellow SUNS academy star Brad Scheer, the duo will ply their trade at the world-renowned school and training destination in Sarasota before finishing off the trip with four days in Santa Monica.
“We head over to Florida to the IMG Academy, which is a massive institution over there that holds all the NBA and college basketballers, all the draft hopefuls,” Bowes said.
“We’ll just be training in an elite environment with the other 30 boys across the country and getting to know them and doing a lot of pre-season training and a lot of hard work.”
Bowes will have plenty of opportunities to impress recruiters across 2016, with both AFL Academy and Queensland state commitments quickly filling his calendar.
However, the draft hopeful is eager to play as many games with the SUNS reserves as possible after registering just one NEAFL appearance in 2015.
Bowes’ contribution in SUNS colours came against GWS at Spotless Stadium in May and yielded an impressive 18 possessions, five marks and a goal to demonstrate he could match it with the bigger bodies at the senior level.
“NEAFL would be an awesome opportunity,” he said.
“When you’re not playing with the Queensland state side, hopefully we’re able to play with the SUNS reserves and get a few games under the belt.”
Through the academy system, the SUNS will have priority access to Bowes at the next edition of the draft and the rangey midfielder has the potential to be Gold Coast’s first top-line academy product.
There’s still over ten months until Bowes finds out whether the SUNS read out his name on draft night, but the long-term academy member is grateful for everything he’s learned during his association with the game’s 17th franchise.
“It’s been amazing just the way they’ve looked after us through the academy,” he said.
“It’s been quite an eye-opening experience, it’s been challenging at times, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”