North signs US rookie Wallace

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 20 Desember 2012 | 14.43

Check out North Melbourne's prospect former US Basketballer Eric Wallace in a college game.

American Eric Wallace in action at the draft camp. Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: Herald Sun

Eric Wallace in a picture he posted on Twitter today. Source: Supplied

NORTH Melbourne has signed US college basketball player Eric Wallace following a 10-day trial with the club.

Kangaroos coach Brad Scott said Wallace, 23, was "keen to make a success" of his transition from college basketball to an AFL rookie.

The 197cm and 102kg utility impressed scouts with his athleticism at the draft camp in October, finishing fourth in the vertical leap and top 10 in the sprint.

Wallace has won a two-year rookie contract after completing a 10-day trial at Arden St.

"At the moment he's got the physical attributes to play multiple positions," Scott said.

"It's really exciting for us to see just how far we can take Eric."

Scott said Wallace would forge his AFL path in the VFL reserves.

"The ovation he received from the playing group when we announced his signing was evidence of how highly regarded Eric already is at our club and the way he has fitted in so easily.

"He still has a lot to learn about the game but his passion for Aussie rules is already very strong and his athletic ability is outstanding."

Wallace said he was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the club.

"I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to grow as a footy player. Thank you to @NorthKangaroos for the chance & to all thanks for the support," he tweeted.

He sent a second tweet with a photo of himself in a Roos jumper and the caption "The first step to a long challenging journey! #NMFC #AFL #39"

The 24-year-old from North Carolina said this morning he had watched this year's Grand Final and said he was inspired by Canadian Mike Pyke.

"Four or five years ago he was in the same situation as me, playing a different football code – I was playing basketball – but not having not much skill in the game of AFL and in the Grand Final he helped his team to a victory and he looked superb out there," Wallace told SEN.

"I'd love to continue being a professional athlete, I'm looking at this as a new opportunity.

"I just want to become an asset to the Kangaroos and say I did it," he said.

Pic gallery: AFL international success stories

Wallace could become the third American born player to make an AFL debut after Sanford Wheeler (43 games, Sydney from 1989-94) and Don Pyke (132 games, West Coast 1989-96).

Collingwood recently delisted ruckman Shae McNamara after the Milwaukee native spent three years on the rookie list unable to break into the senior team.

McNamara played one game during the Magpies 2011 NAB Cup campaign.

From Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wallace originally had his eye on the NBA draft.

But after stints at three colleges in five years, the latest at Seattle University, his hopes of a professional basketball career - in the US or overseas - seemed shot.

That was when he was invited to Los Angeles for a camp for potential international AFL recruits.

"I didn't know the rules," Wallace told "I was confused."

But he stayed up all night watching tapes of games and did well enough to be invited to the draft camp in Melbourne, where he was the standout international.

Making the AFL is still a long shot, but Wallace has never been one to give up on a dream.

"I'm really falling in love with the game, getting addicted," Wallace said. "More than I could have ever imagined.

"I was going hard right. But then the AFL approached me and I decided to take a step to the left. It's not basketball, but it's still being a professional athlete."

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