In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s Conrad Chow outlines The Circuit Championship at the Fantastic 40 by recapping the four champions and sharing some additional takeaways after spending a long weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada:
The 2021 AAU season concluded in Las Vegas at the Tarkanian Basketball Academy, which showcased 40-plus top-100 recruits over three different high school classes. A joint showcase between The Circuit, based out in Texas, and event guru Dinos Trigonis, teams competed in pool play followed by a knockout bracket to determine a champion. Cross shoe circuit players teamed up on the two All-Star teams: The Texas Circuit All-Stars and the National Circuit All-Stars, made this event quite intriguing and entertaining. For those not in the building or able to catch the live streams on BallerTV, here’s our synopsis:
The Circuit Championship at the Fantastic 40 Review
15U Champions: Vegas Elite
The Vegas Elite 15U squad cruised to a championship going undefeated throughout the week, winning by an average of 30 points, and beating Team Fox (TX) in the finals 74-42. Led by the offensive firepower of John Paul Mobley Jr. and Ryder Elisaldez, Vegas Elite also boasts a ton of overall roster depth, including Josiah Cunningham, Taj Degourville, 2025 forward Chris Nwuli, and Ohio’s Tyler McKinley, who joined the team for this tournament. The level of polish in Vegas Elite’s guards drastically opens up the game for other players to get easy looks. Combined with a knack for running the lanes and playing with pace, Vegas Elite thrived in transition resulting in several alley-oops and highlight reel plays.
16U Champions: North Dakota Phenom
Beating the UA Rise’s Las Vegas Punishers, North Dakota Phenom emerged victorious and captured the 16U Championship by a final score of 64-49. Overall, Phenom had a multitude of contributors which included Ryan Erikson, Jaxon Kellogg, Carson Yale, and Anthony Doppler. The team was relentless on the offensive glass and hustled for loose balls and was rallied home by the raucous North Dakota crowd.
17U Silver Champions: Factory AZ
Factory AZ was crowned the 17U Silver Champions after a thrilling victory over Elev8Hoopz, 71-67. The team finished 5-1 over the course of the week. Among the standouts were 2022 scoring guard Jake Lifgren who showcased his three point range, athletic forward Terrance Dixon with some big time finishes, and 2023 big man Noah Amenhauser with touch around the rim.
17U National Champions: 3D Empire
Arguably the best independent AAU team this summer, 3D Empire not only showed that they can hang with the most elite teams in the nation, but also demonstrated consistent discipline and poise as a collective group. Coach Shawn Ward engineers an up-and-down brand of basketball with floor spacers everywhere while Tourney MVP Anthony Black runs the point. The final score of the semi-finals game between Vegas Elite read 82-75, with 3D Empire holding the lead throughout the game and having an answer for every scoring run from the opposing team. Besides Black, Ryan Agarwal proved to be a seamless complementary partner with a strong feel for the game and smooth shooting stroke. Cam Amboree impressed as a combo guard, in addition to the rest of the supporting cast that routinely stepped up game in and game out.
The following prospects currently sit outside the top-150 according to major recruiting outlets, but with their play in Vegas, that may not be the case for long. “Buy stock now,” as they say.
3D Empire | 6’2 Guard | 2022
Amboree was a legit offensive weapon for 3D Empire, the 17U bracket champs. An uptempo guard, he uses hesitation and a shifty handle to freeze the first line of defense and get into the paint. He also displayed some creativity around the basket, played with a chip on his shoulder, and got good elevation on his pull-up jumper. What he does well projects to translate as he transitions to the next level.
Belmont Shore | 6’6 Forward | 2022
Suiting up for Belmont Shore, Andrews is a strong and athletic wing. He exploded for a huge 31-point performance against 3D Empire while demonstrating some upside as a versatile defender and floor spacer. Still wide open in terms of recruitment, Andrews has college-ready size, athleticism, and skill.
E1T1 United | 6’5 Guard | 2022
Florida-based E1T1 has a bounty of talent in Dillon Mitchell, Brice Sensabaugh, and Bruce Thornton, among others. Enter Fabio Basili, a combo guard with Italian ties. Basili had consistent performances all weekend, showcasing his ability to push the ball in transition, attack the rim, and space the floor. The 6’5 guard is tough and plays well within his role. Expect Basili to continue to generate attention from high major schools, moving forward.
National Circuit All-Stars | 6’6 Guard | 2022
By now, most of social media is familiar with Donato’s viral highlight reels. Playing for the National Circuit All-Stars, Donato put on a show by playing with a real sense of urgency and an active motor as a lead guard. Donato routinely finished with craft at the rim if he did not dunk the ball, knocked down a few threes, and found ways to make plays on the defensive end, as well. The Dominican Republic native’s goal is to play D-1 and he very clearly has the talent to do so.
Texas Swish | 6’5 Forward | 2022
A two-sport athlete, Henderson undoubtedly has impressive natural physical tools. In more of a point-forward role displaying switchability onto bigs, Henderson played with passion and thrived getting downhill with a live dribble. The 6’5 forward showcased a superior second jump and capitalized on getting buckets via offensive rebounds. Henderson is aiming to play both basketball and football at the collegiate level and appears to have the rare ability to be able to pull it off.
Dallas Showtyme | 6’8 Forward | 2022
Jennings joined Dallas Showtyme for The Circuit Championship at the Fantastic 40 after showcasing his abilities on the UAA circuit this summer with Texas Impact 4:13. When utilized as a small ball big, Jennings created mismatch problems and used his ability as a driver to score. A good vertical athlete, the 6’8 forward displayed energy crashing the offensive glass and potential as a 3-and-D prospect. He’s already received a heavy amount of high major offers and it’s easy to see why: 3+ position defenders with offensive upside are far and few between. His final six (per his Twitter account): SMU, Penn State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Utah.
Vegas Elite | 6’2 Guard | 2022
Playing for Vegas Elite to close out the AAU cycle, Menifield proved to be a gifted scorer and skilled ball handler. Leading a somewhat revamped VEBC team, which also suited up Sada Nganga, Adrame Diongue, and Sebastian Mack (playing up), Menifield looked comfortable doing what he does best — putting the ball in the bucket. He was quick with the ball in the open court, utilizing his tight handle to get to his spots to score. Menifield also showed some defensive chops and played passing lanes well. His recruitment is still open and would help a wide array of college programs in need of a bonafide scorer.
E1T1 United | 6’6 Wing | 2022
Sensabaugh showcased his scoring prowess throughout the week by raining threes and relentlessly attacking the basket whenever he was run off the line. A powerful athlete with a strong lower and upper body, Sensabaugh is not afraid of contact and gets to the free throw line on a regular basis. Ranked outside of the top-40 for his position by multiple outlets, Sensabaugh is due for a bump up the lists. A high-academic student, as well — he has recently cut his list to eight: Stanford, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Florida, and Alabama.