Battle at the Villages Standouts

MIDDLETON, FL – For over a decade, one of the most popular attractions in Central Florida has been a game at the annual Battle at the Villages basketball tournament. However, this year, the tournament looks just a bit different than in years prior. Taking place on the brand new campus of The Villages Charter School in Middleton, the tournament was a great chance for the school to utilize its new incredible facilities, including a 4-court auxiliary gym and innovative central court scoreboard. However, although the facilities and location are brand new, the level of competition in this year’s Battle was no different. Featuring 8 schools representing 4 states, this year’s iteration of the Battle was one rife with competition and some great games. Here are the players who made their mark on this year’s event.


While the tournament did boast 4 great out-of-state teams, the championship game featured two Florida powerhouses in Norland out of Miami and Olympia from Orlando. The final game went down to the wire but ended with a 65-61 win for the Titans of Olympia in their first-ever Battle appearance. They were led by their incredible guard core, headlined by unsigned 2024 Kaiden White, whose sharpshooting was instrumental to keeping Olympia ahead in every game they played. He has a great developing guard skill set and is comfortable going to the rack and playing great defense. Guards 2025 Sean Owens and 2024 Vophcy Prophete added much-needed scoring to this Olympia roster. Owens is a sniper from distance while Prophete had arguably the best weekend of anyone on Olympia, showing that he can score at all 3 levels and has unmatched motor while not being overly ball-dominant. Wing 2025 Kam Wright has adjusted well since moving over to Olympia, displaying his athleticism with dynamic plays in the open floor and greatly developed isolation scoring in the half-court.

The Titans were challenged by Miami’s Norland High School, led by 2024 Missouri commit Marcus Allen. The Vikings are heavily dependent on Allen’s offensive output, but his intensity on the defensive end and physicality on both ends stood out. Allen has developed a much smoother jump shot form, with a high release point and great consistency. His offensive development is in tandem with his already dominant physicality on the interior and his ability to score with ease going downhill. Allen’s return has proved vital and has put Norland right back on the map as a competitive force in South Florida’s basketball scene. Allen is joined by 6-7 2024 Kendrick Preston, whose dominant athleticism and length make him a great forward complement to Allen’s guard/wing skill set. 2024 Jamal Ware adds another offensive weapon from beyond the arc and going downhill.


The Battle has long been renowned for featuring teams from all over the country, many of whom have gone on to win the Battle and bring the trophy back home. While a Florida team took it this year, there was no shortage of talent from the tournament’s four out-of-state teams.

Chicago’s De La Salle High School fared the best of any of the out-of-state participants, securing the third-place trophy with a win over Florida’s FSU School. 2024 Tavariyuan Williams, who has returned to basketball after being shot twice in 2022, was their leading man for most of the tournament. The 6-5 guard has the length to be a great downhill scorer as well as the IQ to assume primary guard responsibilities when needed. 2024 Richard Lindsay also added to De La Salle’s onslaught, adding a needed perimeter threat as well as a high IQ mid-range scoring presence. 2024 Alioune Mbaye was another tough-nosed interior presence who made life difficult for opposing big men, despite not always being the biggest guy on the floor. West Forsyth High School from Cumming, Georgia was led by Marshall commit and arguably the tournament’s best player in 2024 Will Moore. The 6-7 wing was lights out from distance with great range and used his length and athleticism to challenge defenders at the rim. He’s poised to be a standout in his freshman season with the Herd. Long-time event participant Covington Catholic from Park Hills, Kentucky is a fan favorite and the only participating team to have won this tournament before (2019). While they’ve lost their main offensive weapon in Miami (OH)’s Evan Ipsaro, the addition of Arkansas All-State standout 2024 Caden Miller has put Covington right back where they left off. Miller’s 6-9 frame and elite athleticism made him a lob threat and a rebounding machine. However, Covington is still powered by their electric guard play, this year in the form of 2026s Athens McGillis and Cash Marney. Marney is a springy, high-energy guard while McGillis was easily the tournament’s highest IQ guard, scoring in crafty ways around the basket as well as displaying incredible passing flair. The Colonels finished 5th in this year’s Battle.


While neither of these teams made the championship, hosts The Villages Charter School and Tallahassee’s FSU School featured some intriguing talent. The Villages are headlined by #16 player in the class of 2026 Chris Washington, whose length and athleticism continue to make him a tough cover for defenders. The incredibly young Buffalo got great production out of sophomores Brisun Hammermeister and Jared Thompson to finish 6th in the tournament. FSU School advanced to the semifinals behind a close win over Covington in the first round, thanks to the dynamic play of Quincy Munroe transfer 2025 Iyran Francis. Francis’ athleticism and feel around the basket made him a difficult assignment, especially when you consider his wiry 6-7 frame. Senior TJ Baker was another dynamic scoring option for the Seminoles, as his isolation arsenal is seemingly endless, and he thrives with the ball in his hands. 2025s Trey Card and Amari Robinson added to the Seminole’s efforts, which were ultimately not enough to get past eventual champions Olympia. Their mix of experience and talent should make FSU a team to watch for the next few years.