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UAB’s star forward announces he’s staying with the Blazers – ‘Yax is back!’

UAB star forward Yaxel Lendeborg will not be entering the transfer portal, he announced Tuesday afternoon in an emphatic statement posted to social media.

“I want to thank the man above for blessing me with the ability to play this sport,” Lendeborg wrote. “It has given me the opportunity to make meaningful relationships and has also given my opportunities I couldn’t even imagine.”

 

“I also want to thank Blazer Nation, [head] Coach [Andy] Kennedy, [associate head] Coach [Ryan] Cross, and all my teammates for taking me in from the moment I got here and making it feel like home. I am proud of this team and what we accomplished this season. Being a kid from JUCO, I would have never though I’d be an AAC champion or make it to the NCAA Tournament. With that being said, I don’t think we are done. So Birmingham… YAX IS BACK!!!”

Lendeborg, a New Jersey native, played at JUCO Arizona Western from 2020-2023. The forward signed with UAB in April 2023. Described by Andy Kennedy as having the potential to be “one of the greatest players in UAB history,” Lendeborg averaged 13.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game his first year in Birmingham. He set the program records for most rebounds and most double-doubles in a season and was awarded the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year trophy.

The forward captioned his social media post “Speculations,” referring to rumors he might follow in the footsteps of multiple AAC stars and transfer into a high-major program. North Texas’s Jason Edwards, a 19.1 point per game scorer, recently entered the portal, as did Wichita State’s high-octane guard Colby Rogers.

In an interview with Birmingham journalist Steve Irvine, Lendeborg claimed nearly 30 programs reached out to him despite his name not being in the portal, a violation of NCAA rules. He didn’t specify the amount of money he was offered but “indicated it was a lot.”

“You got to figure out where your (heart) is at and who really wanted you,” said Lendeborg. “Nowadays, there are a lot of (players) who would go anywhere that offered them big money. That’s not really going to help you out.”

Lendeborg is the latest in a long line of Blazer stars to remain in Birmingham. The only UAB player to ever leave for a high-major school is Zisis Sarikopoulos, who averaged 6.8 minutes and 1.8 points per game for the Blazers in 2007-2008 and subsequently transferred to Ohio State.

Lendeborg’s teammates Butta Johnson, Alejandro Vasquez, and Christian Coleman announced their returns to Birmingham the same day. UAB is now slated to return four of five members of a starting lineup that won 23 games and a conference championship.

Charles Vaughan is a sports analyst and contributing writer for Yellowhammer News.

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