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When Yale men’s basketball head coach James Jones recruited Azar Swain ’22 as a high schooler, he said he envisioned Swain becoming the program’s all-time leading three-point scorer.

On Tuesday night, more than five years after he committed to Yale in Feb. 2016 and in his 103rd appearance for the Blue and White, the senior guard did just that.

Swain sank a deep three-pointer midway through the second half of Yale’s (6–7, 0–0 Ivy) game against Monmouth (9–2, 2–0 MAAC). The three was his 230th in a Yale jersey, one more than the previous record-holder, guard Ed Petersen ’92, scored over the course of his collegiate career from 1988 to 1992. 

The shot itself spurred the Elis along as they trimmed a 20-point hole to a three-point Monmouth lead over the course of the second half, though the Hawks ultimately held on for a 69–60 win. After stepping out of the Yale locker room for an interview with the News and WTNH News 8, Swain said it was hard to process the milestone immediately after a loss. But when he heard about Jones’ envisioning this moment for his former high-school self, Swain laughed. 

“I’m not gonna say he believed that,” Swain said. “I’m not even sure that was a goal of mine I had in mind when I first got here. It’s just been a result of me trying to prove myself through the years. It’s amazing to have an opportunity like this. Like I said, I just want to be remembered when I’m gone.”

Monmouth’s lead had shrunk to 53–46 by the next break from play, a timeout with seven minutes left. As Swain and others on the floor sat focused on the bench, the John J. Lee Amphitheater’s public address announcer Eric Scholl proclaimed the new record, a celebratory graphic flashed on both of JLA’s video boards and a sparse but loud crowd of 892 rose for an ovation.

Despite an off shooting night — of his nine three-point attempts, only the record-breaking one fell — Swain ended Tuesday night with a game-high 17 points and the same number of career appearances as Petersen, 103, but just one more three.

“It’s great for Azar,” Jones said. “He’s done so much for our program over the last four years. It’s great to see him have some success and for him to break a record.”

“I just want to be remembered when I’m gone,” Swain, pictured above during Yale’s season opener last month, said after breaking the record on Tuesday. (William McCormack, Contributing Photographer)

Swain broke a previous Petersen school record last season. His 93 three-pointers during the 2019–20 campaign are the most in program history; Swain crossed Petersen’s 72 during a game against Penn at The Palestra in February 2020. He finished that pandemic-abrupted season ranked 10th among all NCAA Division I men’s basketball players with an average of 3.21 triples per game.

After taking a gap year because of the pandemic, the guard from Brockton, Massachusetts entered this season with 201 career three-pointers. Barring an injury, becoming the school’s all-time three-point leader was more a question of when, not if. He scored 54 in each of his first two seasons as an Eli and now has 29 three-point makes through this season’s first 13 games. 

As of Sunday, the night he tied the all-time record, Swain said he was not aware of where he stood in regards to Petersen. He said he had a chance to think about the milestone for the first time earlier Tuesday and played to reflect more after winding down from the Monmouth loss later Tuesday night. Swain credited his teammates, shouting out former Yale guards Miye Oni and Alex Copeland ’19 along with forward Paul Atkinson ’21, for trusting him to shoot and setting him up with assists. 

During a timeout with seven minutes to play, public address announcer Eric Scholl proclaimed the new record, a celebratory graphic flashed on both of JLA’s video boards and a sparse but loud crowd of 892 rose for an ovation. (Courtesy of muscosportsphotos.com)

“It’s just the result of a lot of work,” Swain said. “I can’t explain how many hours with my dad I’ve spent critiquing my jump shot and breaking it down throughout my life.”

Swain coincidentally became Yale’s all-time three-point leader on the same night Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry became the NBA’s all-time three-point leader, as some Yale followers and teammates pointed out on social media celebrating Swain’s new record. Just two nights earlier, Iona head coach Rick Pitino said Swain had “played like Steph Curry” when he dropped a career-high 34 points and seven three-pointers on the Gaels.

In high school at The Rivers School outside Boston, Swain grew accustomed to setting school records. The Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior during the 2016-17 season, Swain is the school’s all-time points leader with 2,185. As a wide receiver on the Rivers football team, he sported the same number he wears on the basketball court, five, and finished his football career with 36 career touchdowns, the most in school history.

Ed Petersen ’92, dribbling above on the cover of the Nov. 30, 1990 issue of the News, held the previous record with 229 career three-pointers. (Yale Daily News Historical Archive)

“He’s a mechanic in some ways,” Swain’s high school coach Keith Zalaski said in a 2020 interview with the News. “If he feels something off with his shot, he can fix it… as soon he goes to get into his shot, the entire bench stands up because everyone thinks he’s going to make it, especially when he gets into those games where he’s really feeling it.”

Earlier this season, Swain also joined Yale’s 1,000-point club, crossing the mark during the Bulldogs’ 82–54 win at Siena.

WILLIAM MCCORMACK
William McCormack covers Yale men's basketball. He previously served as a Sports and Digital Editor for the Yale Daily News and also reported on the athletic administration as a staff reporter. Originally from Boston, he is a senior in Timothy Dwight College.