Jason Holmes: '100 percent' more Americans will play AFL

Jason Holmes of the St. Kilda Saints takes part in a photo shoot at Brighton Beach in Melbourne. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

St Kilda's American rookie, Jason Holmes, believes it's a matter of time before more U.S. athletes try to follow his history-making path.

Holmes became the first born-and-bred American to play in the Australian Football League when he was selected for three late-season matches in 2015, showing exceptional promise as a high-leaping, combative ruckman.

The 26-year-old Chicago native, who turned his back on a potential professional basketball career to join the Saints as an international rookie in late 2013, is one of three Americans on AFL lists - with compatriots Mason Cox and Matt Korcheck learning their trade at Collingwood and Carlton respectively. Cox recently showcased his enormous potential in an NAB Challenge game against Geelong, kicking two goals and taking several strong marks, suggesting he could soon follow Holmes into senior football.

And Holmes is confident more American athletes will try their hand at AFL.

"Oh, 100 percent," Holmes told ESPN, pointing to an over-supply of basketballers trying to get drafted to the NBA.

"There isn't as much demand for the 6'8" power forward-types, and they have dreams to do something amazing, but then [if they don't make the NBA] it's 'wait a minute, I might be at home making pennies and playing in front of [only] a few hundred every night, and there's this amazing sport that looks exciting, and I might have the potential and I love a challenge -- why not'?

"And you fall in love with [AFL] so quickly, you really do."

The 203cm, 100kg big man is in his third year on St Kilda's rookie list, having begun his journey began when he received an invitation to try out for the sport he'd never heard of. After watching several highlights videos, Holmes was desperate to give it a shot.

"It all made sense," he told ESPN.

"I remember thinking 'I wouldn't mind having a look at that, because there wasn't many basketball options [for him]'.

"It looked amazing and exciting, and I wanted to be a part of it."

Holmes said the attraction of playing a professional sport outdoors, in front of big crowds, played a key role in his decision to take up St Kilda's offer to relocate from Chicago to Melbourne.

"I was used to always playing in the gym, indoors, but loved the idea of playing professional football outside in front of massive crowds," he said.

The AFL recently relaxed its rules surrounding international signings, lifting its upper age limit for overseas athletes, and clubs are now able to sign overseas prospects to international scholarships at any age whereas previously they had been able to sign overseas athletes only under the age of 22.

The rule change may encourage athletes who are later into their sporting lives but still young enough learn a new sport and prosper at AFL level.

AFL representatives will head to the U.S in April for the international draft combine.