Harry Sheezel: "When he gets around the ball, something happens"
Sandringham forward Harry Sheezel had a breakthrough game at NAB League level in the Dragons’ win over Calder on the weekend.
The 17-year-old, eligible for the AFL draft next year, kicked 3.3, showing an ability to get separation off his defender and create opportunities.
“When he gets around the ball, something happens,” said coach Jackson Kornberg.
He gathered 21 disposals playing off half-forward, was involved in plenty of scoring chains, and laid six tackles, applying pressure, resulting in repeat inside 50’s, and was named fourth best-on-ground by the coaches.
It was that defensive output that pleased Sheezel the most.
“I had a review with Jacko earlier in the week and a lot of it was focussed around my defensive game and my intensity so I just focused on that and I guess it really helped me,” Sheezel said.
“An honest effort is a big thing Jacko has been pushing across the group, so I was happy to do my part.
“The team's pretty dominant, so it was good to take my opportunities when it came in.”
Sheezel says he models his game on GWS small forward Toby Greene, and he’s shown glimpses of the one-time All-Australian's on-field traits.
He took a hanger on the weekend; he is a fierce competitor; he makes sound decisions with the ball and has some tricks; he runs his defenders ragged; he can have an impact higher up the ground.
And, most tellingly, Sheezel has a knack of finding the goals.
As well as kicking three goals in his third NAB League game, Sheezel kicked four on senior debut for AJAX Football Club earlier in the season, and three in his first under 17s carnival game for Vic Metro last month.
Sheezel sees it is a natural asset, as he hit the scoreboard as a midfielder throughout juniors, and it has been refined through shots for goal at the park.
But under 17s coach Nick Moodie admits that there was thought to reinvent Sheezel as a defender, given his composure and neat kicking style.
“At the start of the year, I actually thought he is such a good user and so athletic, that we could have him as a running half-back,” Moodie said.
“I reckon we lasted about a half in the intra-club. Then I said 'nup, you're lost. You're a natural forward, go back forward.'
“He is a goalkicker - he's a bit like a more athletic type of Eren Soylemez - just knows where the goals are."
Moodie added that, given he is still at an early stage of his development, there is scope for him to get thrown-around positionally, to allow him to show his versatility.
Sheezel was given clearance by the Dragons to play two games of senior footy for AJAX earlier in the year and said he found it incredibly beneficial.
“It taught me forward craft, how to use my body, leading patterns and using my agility to outsmart my bigger defenders.
One player in that AJAX team was cousin Toby, listed with the Dragons in 2019, whom Harry shares a close bond with.
His competitive edge that shines through in his hunger for the ball, was sharpened through footy and basketball shoot-offs with Toby as a kid.
“We're always at each other's houses kicking the footy so we're pretty sporty together,” Sheezel said.
As well as that, the pair have been on family holidays, witnessed Hawthorn’s threepeat at the MCG as unabashed Hawks’ supporters, and trained together in preseason, as Harry has sought to attune his running intensity.
Sheezel played representative basketball until the age of 14 and does basketball coaching during Mount Scopus College’s school holidays.
Asked who he supports in the NBA, he stops, pauses and laughs: “I can’t go for a team – I’d say Brooklyn because I love Kevin Durant, but then I sound like a bandwagoner!”
That exposure in higher-level sport has perhaps given him a grounding in a strong work ethic, which Kornberg praised.
“What you know about Sheez is he's going to work really hard - his intensity at training is really strong,” Kornberg said.
“He's always been crafty and classy around goals, but it's nice to see him come out and have six tackles on the weekend. It shows that the intent is certainly there and he's starting to develop that [defensive] side of his game.”