Kingdom of the Sun Standouts

OCALA, FL – For almost 50 years, teams and spectators from around Florida and beyond have gathered in humble Ocala, Florida to take part in the annual Kingdom of the Sun basketball tournament. The 16-team event has featured NBA players, college standouts, local legends, and a plethora of entertaining games since its inception in 1974 by legendary coach Jim Haley. Now in its 49th year, the Kingdom of the Sun promised marquee matchups from teams representing 3 states and 15 different cities across Florida and the U.S., and it did not disappoint. Here are some of the players who made their names known over the 4-day event.


Outside of hosts Vanguard and long-time local participants Hawthorne and North Marion, Winter Haven High School was the tournament’s sole returning team, winning the event last year behind the MVP performance of Yale commit 2024 Isaac Celiscar. This year looked very similar for the top-5 ranked team in Florida by MaxPreps. Celiscar repeated his MVP performance and dazzled with a complete takeover in the OT championship game vs. Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas. Celiscar’s hard-nosed defensive efforts caused problems for STA, and his much-improved mid-range jumper looked virtually unstoppable. He’s an energetic wing who promises to make waves in the Ivy League next season. Teammates 2024 Jamie Phillips Jr. and 2025 Cezanne Mosley each took home All-Tournament honors. Phillips continued to flash his scoring ability in the post and deep isolation bag while reminding us that he is a great passer and high IQ defender. Mosley came into this event ready to show Florida his improved perimeter shooting to add to his interior grit and relentless activity around the basket.

Their championship opponent, St. Thomas Aquinas, looked to dethrone the reigning champions. A team with only one senior, St. Thomas Aquinas plays well beyond their years. Led by the dynamic brother duo of 2026 DJ Sandi and 2027 KJ Sandi, St. Thomas Aquinas forced overtime in the championship, where they trailed by 22 points heading into the second half. DJ is a dynamic guard with a tight handle and a relentless downhill attack, while his little brother KJ has one of the greenest lights in Florida. They’re complimented by freshman workhorse 2027 Clarence Westbrook, do-it-all guard 2026 AJ Ambrose, and an imposing interior presence in 6-6 2026 Zane Elliot. Look for the Raiders to make some noise come playoff season.


One of the highlights of the Kingdom of the Sun is getting to watch teams from near Ocala compete against each other and the other great teams at the tournament. This year was no exception. Vanguard High School made it out of the first round of the Kingdom behind the performance of 2024 Johnardo Turner, a shifty, score-first guard who energized a gritty Vanguard team to keep games close with great programs like Williston and Albany Green Tech. North Marion’s 2025 Coy Sizemore filled the scoresheet with his automatic perimeter stroke. Trinity Catholic’s 2025 Justin Bandy flashed an intriguing skillset with a young TC team that relies heavily on the 6-7 wings’ exceptional ball handling. He’s a one-man band for the Celtics that will continue to rack up impressive stat lines throughout the season.

In a highly anticipated matchup, nearby teams Hawthorne High School and Williston High School faced off in a rematch of the recent 1A Football state championship game. And while big guard and electric athlete 2025 CJ Ingram was able to put on a show in front of the local crowd, the energy and depth of Williston’s well-coached roster was too much for the Hornets. Williston went on to capture 3rd place in the tournament, losing only to eventual champions Winter Haven. The Red Devils boast a lineup led by 2024 Kyler Lamb, whose shooting touch and effective post-footwork make him a true inside-out threat. Add that to the exceptional long-range prowess of 2024 Reggie White, the on-court leadership of 2024 Aramys Rodriguez, and the exceptional athleticism and size of 2024 Javon Brown, and you’ve created one of the strongest small school teams in Florida’s recent history.


The tournament’s 15-team field gave us some other great performances throughout the event. One of the tournament’s greatest performances came from the duo of Danny Delgardo III and Derek Delgardo Jr. from Tampa Leto. The two are incredible athletes who have utilized their growth spurts to become legitimate at-the-rim threats. Derek went on to be named to the All-Tournament Team, while Danny took home this year’s Mr. Hustle Award. FAU commit Lorenzo Cason showed out all week, leading his team to a Consolation Championship in dominant fashion. Despite the Day 1 loss, Cason continued to show why he is a consensus top guard in the state of Florida with his great perimeter poise and explosive downhill attack. Rockledge’s Ryan Blount is continuing to prove to be a steal for UTampa as he displayed his rampant athleticism and offensive tenacity in Rockledge’s 5th-place finish. Football standout Jordan Lewis of Cape Coral Mariner has as good of a handle as anyone in the state of Florida and showed that his on-field athleticism translates well to the court. His teammate Marcus Kelley Jr. was a high-intensity assignment for every team they faced and was rewarded with a spot on the All-Tournament team. 2025 David Sanchez Barrera did it all on both ends for Ponte Vedra all week long, proving that he’s one of Jacksonville’s most underrated prospects.

The out-of-state participants made some noise as well. Green Tech out of Albany, New York came into the week with a resounding win and responded well to the adversity they faced against gritty teams like Vanguard and Winter Haven. 2025 Haisi Mayben was their primary scorer, with a green light on offense and a nice bag of moves to get downhill. He’s one to watch in the state of New York. Philadelphia’s Math, Civics and Sciences Charter School brought an old-school look as well as an old-school toughness to the Kingdom, ending their first game with a meager 1-point loss against eventual tournament runners-up St. Thomas Aquinas. 2024 Sair Alsbrooks was their main offensive spark, dialing shots up from anywhere on the floor and hustling hard around the basket for second chance points. 2026 guard Milak Myatt showed why he’s getting D1 interest with his relentless offensive intensity to add to his big frame and impressive perimeter shooting chops.