2021 ACCAC Player of the Year shines in offseason, picks St. John's over 21 other offers
YUMA, Ariz., (KYMA, KECY) - It was only a matter of time before one of the best players in NJCAA basketball signed the line to play hoops at the next level.
And now, Arizona Western College standout, Yaxel Lendeborg, is headed back to the east coast to play at Madison Square Garden following this season as a Matador.
Surrounded by teammates, coaches and friends last Thursday, the 2021 ACCAC Player of the Year signed his Letter of Intent to play for St. John's University.
It's a bit of a homecoming for him, playing under the bright lights of New York City after hailing from Pennsauken, New Jersey.
Yaxel had a breakout year in 2021-22, earning the conference Player of the Year award and NJCAA All-American honors after leading his conference in rebounds per game and total rebounds.
He played in 31 games last season, averaging 12.0 points per game and 11.0 rebounds per contest. Also scoring in double-figures in 23 games while grabbing double-digit rebounds in 22 games.
Lendeborg then went on to shine in the JA48 league in Las Vegas and the Iowa Western Showcase this past summer - leading to a total of 22 offers.
For Yaxel, the choice to begin his journey at Arizona Western changed his life.
"This is a dream come true. Growing up, I definitely wanted to go as far as I can with basketball and being here made me realize that I could," said Lendeborg. "I feel like I accomplished one of my goals in life. I definitely see the world a lot more differently than when I did before I got here and learned more things."
While being asked about his time at Arizona Western so far, he was joined by his teammates, Marquise Hargrove and Malakai Harris, who spoke to his unselfishness.
"He's unselfish," said Hargove. "I think he might be the only guy I know that gets a rebound and looks to kick out. That's what I like about playing with him. It's crazy to see where he is now compared to when I met him."
"Same thing as he (Marquise) said, he's unselfish," said Harris. "He's a good teammate. He always cheers you up when you're down and he's always there when you need him."
For Head Coach Kyle Isaacs, Yaxel has been a shining star at Arizona Western and brings a lot to the table given his physical abilities.
"From his background, from his childhood, to the way he fell in love with the game, Yaxel is an elite rebounder that has fantastic point guard, guard skills at the 6'9" height that he has and that's what makes him elite," said Isaacs. "It's an honor that Yaxel, who is from the east coast, gets to go back there and play at the Mecca at Madison Square Garden."
Yaxel still has some unfinished business in Yuma though, leading the 2022-23 Matadors onto the floor in hopes of reaching another NJCAA national tournament and avenging their Region I final loss last year.
The Matadors are off to a great start at 3-0 and scoring over 100 points in each of those games.