Marcus McGee once again put on a fantastic Best of the Best Florida Middle School Showcase. With a heavy dose of Florida kids in attendance, a few other states were represented, and talent from across the southeast was on display.
Less than 24 hours after the camp was complete, I wanted to drop five kids that jumped off the court into my notes and now into this article that will get my coverage of the Best of The Best Elite Florida Showcase underway. You ready…Let’s go…
Ian Parham, Jr. (6’3/ Combo Guard/2026)
School: Faith Christian Academy
Let me just say that Ian made his case to be recognized as not one of the best players, but the best player at camp. If they were giving this award away, I have to say that it would be extremely difficult not to put that award in his hands after his performance throughout camp. Everything that he did was high-level, and he was consistent in doing it throughout the day. He did not have times when he disappeared or disengaged; he brought his work hat with him and did not punch the clock until it was over. He is a building block caliber player at the next level and could eventually develop into that beyond that. Ian sees the game from a score-first perspective as he is ball-dominant, but he is patient when reading the floor and allowing situations to develop.
As good as he is as a scorer, he is a very willing passer, which shows his ability to get his teammates involved.
He has a high motor, as he just kept coming in every game that I witnessed. No matter where Ian was on the court, he was in a position to be a scoring threat. Whether he was going to pull up with the mid-range, get to the paint and shoot over defenders, or finish directly at the rim, Ian got it done at all levels. Ian already has a very rich and exciting game, and it was one of the smoothest games on display at the camp, and there are a lot of eyes on Ian seeing how his game develops over the next few years.
AJ (Ayden) Ambrose (5’8/Point Guard/2026)
School: St. Gregory School
This was my first time putting eyes on AJ, and I see why he was part of the 8th-Grade Invite Division at the camp. The word that was written all over AJ’s game was playmaker. He created throughout the camp for himself and his teammates. He created in transition and in the half-court. He was one of the best floor generals I saw, and he found a balance between scoring and facilitating. He was impressive in doing both, and good things happened throughout camp for his team when the ball was in his hands.
To be in a camp and have the ball in his hands as much as he did, I was impressed with the limited number of times AJ turned the ball over.
He has a good feel for the game, played at a nice pace, shot the ball well from deep, and even showed at times that he could move over to the off-guard spot. Despite moving to the off-ball spot a few times, make no mistake about it; he is the captain of the ship on the court and knows how to get everyone involved.
Chris Washington, Jr. (6’6/Center/2026)
School: The Villages Charter School
If you have had any conversation with anyone tied into middle school grassroots basketball, Chris Washiington, Jr., name is one that should come out when talking about one of the best in the country. He continues to develop as his game has matured since the last time that I saw him. He is more comfortable on the perimeter, his handles are getting tighter, he is pushing the rock in the transition and making good decisions, and his perimeter J is improving. He has always had a nice mid-range J, but he is working on the shot beyond the arc.
The thing about Chris is that he is so far ahead of many of his peers, yet he hasn’t even scratched the surface of the type of player he can develop into.
Chris is definitely one of the most talented two-way players in his class. He could have easily been in the conversation as one of the best offensive and defensive players at the camp. He works on a high level at both ends of the court, and the scariest thing for future opponents is, his game is developing into one that will put him in conversations as one of the best across the country.
Maddox Palmer (6’3/Guard/2026)
School: Landrum Middle School
It was great seeing the silky smooth Maddox Palmer in action again. Maddox continues to grow as a three-level scorer and in his positional fluidity. He was a positive contributor throughout camp in all aspects of the game, from offensively, defensively, rebounding, assist, and even things that do not show up on the stat sheet. There have been questions about his effort on the defensive end, but he showed more consistency during camp but still has to bring more commitment to that end of the court, but it is definitely getting better.
Despite still having work to do on the defensive end of the court, offensively, what he has become known to do, which is getting buckets, he was doing it.
The midrange was on display, as well as, making his way to the rim, finishing or getting to the line. Maddox is still polishing his game, and as he continues to develop will always be in the conversation as one of the up-and-coming talents in the 2026 class.
DJ Sandi (5’11/Point Guard/2026)
School: Xceed Preparatory Academy
This was my first time laying eyes on DJ, and he did not disappoint. He got it done in numerous ways on the offensive end of the court. At times he was a high-level scorer, then at times, he was a dime dropper. He knows how to create for himself and for his teammates off the bounce. He would have had some imposing stat lines if they were keeping stats as his production was consistent throughout the day. Despite taking it in the paint amongst some very lengthy defenders, he finished well with floaters as well as crafty finishes at the rim.
He was amongst the best iso scorers as he was highly artful in making his way to the rim.
Defensively, his on-ball tenacity made it hard at times for ball-handlers. He has quick hands and feet that helped him be one of the most sound and disruptive players I saw on that end of the court throughout camp. DJ can do some impressive things with the ball in his hands, but his overall floor game was one of the best on display.
Those were five of my immediate takeaways. Stay tuned as more is on the way from #BOTBFL.