East Perth midfielder Thomas Shanahan wasn't on the radar of many clubs at the start of the year but made them sit up and take notice with an impressive showing at the State draft combine on the weekend.
The unheralded 18-year-old was one of 10 AFL hopefuls put through their paces at Revolution Sports in Shenton Park ahead of next month's national, pre-season and rookie drafts.
To earn an invitation, players needed four AFL clubs to have shown interest.
Players with five or more clubs interested were tested at the national combine earlier this month.
Despite not being included in the WA under-18 squad, Shanahan earned his spot at the combine with a blistering season for the Royals' colts and reserves.
Watched by recruiters from most AFL clubs yesterday, he blitzed the agility test in 8.0sec., finished third in the beep test with 13.8 behind South Fremantle forward Ben Sokol and Jack Clarke medallist Jacob Green, and clocked 2.93 in the 20m sprint.
"From what I know and from what I've heard, I've never been on the radar that much," Shanahan said.
"You hear kids getting announced for national combine and State combine and when you're playing good footy you start to wonder if your name will get called up.
"I think it is (a goal) for any young kid coming through the ranks, they want to be at something like this to give themselves the best opportunity."
East Fremantle's Ryan Lester-Smith, who kicked 43 goals for the Sharks in 2013, attended the combine but didn't do any testing because of a knee injury.
The 21-year-old son of 1989 Bernie Naylor medallist Neil has been nominated by Fremantle as a father-son rookie and will automatically join the club if he isn't selected in the November 21 national draft.
AFL Academy development manager Mick Ablett said the State screenings often unearthed hidden gems and he expected that to occur again this year.
"History suggests that there's going to be guys come out of this all the time," he said.
"I remember Kane Mitchell in the last couple of years, seeing Kane do it twice and get his opportunity, Matt Priddis doing it and Sam Dwyer, who was a mature-aged player out of Port Melbourne last year.
"I think it's getting harder and harder for the clubs now with the expanded competition.
"They've got to look a little bit further and wider for the talent, so it's certainly worthwhile."
State under-18 player Brenden Abbott, who left the program mid-year to return to Albany, represents an intriguing prospect for clubs after dominating in the sprint, agility and vertical leap, but recording a poor beep test.
"He's obviously a super powerful unit," Ablett said.
"We know he's got some work to do in terms of his endurance, but at the end of the day his X-factor is exactly that - it's his speed, his leap and those sorts of things."They're never going to come in a perfect package, they're going to need some work - that's what the clubs are there for."