The Best of The Best 8th Annual Middle School Showcase
As we continue to recap the Best of the Best Showcase, we are going to use Part 3 of the recap to focus on the 2026 class. The 2026 class didn’t disappoint with talent. Sebastian Vilera had it going early in camp.
Sebastian Vilera – 2026 / 5’8 / Guard
Teague Middle School (Altamonte, FL)
AAU Team: N/A
Sebastian caught my eyes early as a playmaker. He is a combo guard with crafty handles, that can set up teammates while at the same time was able to score with the best in his class.
He has all the tools that come with being a facilitator on the court. He has the vision, he has the passing skills, he has the handles, and he plays both ends of the floor.
His ability to get to in the paint off the dribble and to convert in the paint was a major strength when he was off-ball. During the times that I was able to watch him, I didn’t see him take many perimeter shots, or have catch and shoot opportunities. With his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, the perimeter shot will need to be a tool in his toolkit as defenders sag off.
Another player that had a good showing was Brody Church.
Brody Church – 2026 / 6’0/ Guard/Forward
Palm Harbor Middle School (FL)
AAU Team: N/A
It wasn’t the flash that got me watching Brody’s game, it was his fundamentals.
Brody was one of the more fundamentally sound players at the camp.
His skills are well-rounded in all areas out of triple threat. He made sound decisions with the ball in his hands, and he is the player that coaches call glue guys. He keeps things together for the team while on the court. Brody did a little bit of everything well from rebounding to defending. With the skill set that he has, he was a little conservative at times. He has the skills to be more assertive on the offensive end. I focused a lot on Brody early during the camp, and maybe he had not completely come out of his shell, but I was intrigued by his fundamentals and his size. You could just tell, there was more in him that he was not unveiling.
Small in stature but exciting to watch, was Hazzan-Antonio Efford.
Hazzan-Antonio Efford – 2026 / 5’0 / Point Guard
Maitland Middle School (FL)
AAU Team: N/A
If you love watching the undersized guys, then Hazzan was one to watch. He dazzled spectators throughout camp. He has a flair for creativity and found ways to get himself out of difficult situations. He is small but was one of the quickest players on the court with the ball in his hands. He thrived in transition and pushing the ball up the court, pushing the tempo. He is the type of player right now that thrives in space.
He competed relentlessly throughout camp on both ends of the floor.
As his game continues to advance, he gets older and physically develops more, he will be a nightmare for defenders in the open court and coming off ball-screens in open space. With Lil’ Haz (as he is called on IG), everyone will be looking at his physical growth over the next few years. He is going to be a good solid player for a team at the PG spot, but his growth could definitely change his trajectory. Until then, nightly push-ups and continuing to get his shots in daily need to be a part of his regime just as much as brushing his teeth daily is. As it is with many smaller guards, bigger guards will try to label him as the mouse in the house and will physically try to punk him, and defenders will eventually start to force him to take the outside shot trying to eliminate his speed off the bounce and ability to live and create in the paint.
Looking at the last two players I will spotlight here in Part 3, the first spot has to go to Kareem Preston.
Kareem Preston – 2026 / 5’8 / Guard
Murray Middle School (FL)
AAU Team: N/A
Kareem was one of the players that had good size for a guard amongst the 2026 class. Kareem was smooth with it, and at times it seemed to just come easy to him. He exemplified a pass-first mentality, and had several turnovers early in camp, being too unselfish. This part of his game will improve as he continues to develop, as it is a characteristic that a coach wouldn’t want to go away. When it comes to talent he was one of the tops in his class and he has very good court vision. At times as I watched him, it seems as though he just enjoyed creating shot opportunities for others.
With his ability to handle the rock as he does and the ease with which he got by defenders, he can score off the bounce and should look for his scoring opportunities more.
He is definitely a player I want to see in another year or two and the jumps that he makes in the development of his game. There is some interesting potential surrounding Kareem.
The final 2026 player that is getting some ink is Emir Gainer.
Emir Gainer – 2026 / 5’4 / Shooting Guard
Academy Prep (St. Petersburg Florida)
AAU Team: OTE NightRyders
I think Emir came into the building attacking because he was in attack mode every time the ball hit his hands. He consistently put pressure on the defense time and time again.
I can say that he was one of the very few players at camp that never settled, he created scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity. He definitely showed his tenacity on the offensive end.
Now with that style of play at this age, a few bad shot selections as well as unforced turnovers can be expected. One thing that Emir is going to have to continue to work on is the development of his left hand. 90% of his drives were to his right. As he grows defenders will begin to sit on his right and force left, and he will need to be able to execute going left just as well as he does going right. I did not see much as far as perimeter shooting from Emir, but it will be a necessity, as his ability to knock it down will open up driving lanes. One thing I left camp knowing is that Emir can get his, but what I want to see the next time is his ability to create for his teammates, and put them in positions to be successful.
Stay tuned for Part 4, as we look at the Class of 2025 from the Best of the Best Middle School Showcase
*All purple quotations are analysis from Prep Hoops Next Southeast Scout Terry Drake