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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Shortly before Christmas, North Melbourne announced the signing of North Carolina basketball player Eric Wallace, 23, as an international rookie after he impressed during a ten day trial. Wallace was among a number of international athletes who had been invited to the October Draft Combine after trialling at a Los Angeles draft camp earlier in the year. At the Combine, Wallace recorded an 80 cm (31.5") vertical leap and ran a 20 meter (approx. 22 yds) sprint in 2.9 seconds.

After missing out on being drafted by an NBL team, Wallace was considering a move to Europe when he received a call from his agent with the invitation to take part in the LA trials. He spent two weeks training with North ahead of their decision to offer him a two year contract. Wallace knew next to nothing about footy but said he fell in love with the game and wanted to master it. In a recent interview, he also said he was inspired by Sydney's Grand Final win.

At 197 cm (6'4") and 105kg (231 lbs), Coach Brad Scott believes Wallace could play ruck or a key position. According to Scott, Wallace has been working "extremely hard" to learn and get a chance to play. Both Scott and Wallace himself admitted Wallace still has a lot to learn but Scott believes his athletic ability and passion for the game will help him succeed. Scott also believes Wallace's basketball skills - similarly to those of Dean Brogan and Scott Pendlebury - can transfer to football. Wallace said he was grateful for the opportunity that the Kangaroos have given him.

Wallace is currently back home for the holidays but will return in early January to begin training. He will play with the North Ballarat in the VFL in 2013.

Source: theage.com.au, cqnews.com.au, Chelsea Collins, North Melbourne Media Release

Article last changed on Friday, February 01, 2013 - 8:29 PM EST


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