TOM Downie makes his AFL debut with Greater Western Sydney Giants on Sunday.
Downie, 20, has been given one of the biggest jobs in the AFL — going head-to-head with Fremantle giant ruckman Aaron Sandilands in Perth.
GWS recruited Downie from North Ballarat Rebels with pick 56 in the 2011 national draft.
Downie was a late comer to the TAC Cup under-18 competition before being secured by the Giants.
He moved to Ballarat from Benalla, attending St Patrick’s College, to further a promising basketball career.
Standing 203 centimetres, he was one of three Ballarat-based players to represent Australia in the 2010 world under-17 basketball championships in Germany — lining up alongside Ash Constable and Jarrod Fryar.
Rebels coach David Loader describes Downie as a “traditional ruckman” who covered the ground well for a big man.
Downie has been called up after some impressive form for the Giants in the NEAFL.
He is the sixth Giants player to debut this season.
Giants head coach Kevin Sheedy described Downie’s journey into the AFL as a remarkable story.
“He’s a kid that’s come out of the country, has played for the national basketball team and played very little football as a kid before coming to the Giants.’’ Sheedy told gwsgiants.com.au.
“He’s really started to move through the ranks in the NEAFL.
“He’s a very mobile ruckman who’s getting more confident every time he plays the game and as he continues to develop. I think he’ll become a terrific player for the Giants.”