Senior Management Information Systems major and men’s basketball point guard Marcus Azor says he was never naturally the biggest, fastest, or strongest student-athlete, but that his hard work and attention to detail in his craft have been the primary driver for his success on and off the court.
To call Azor’s senior season a success is, minimally, an understatement. The 6’2 Brockton native and Dean’s list student is the first player in Little East Conference (LEC) history to repeat as both the Player of the Year, and Defensive Player of the year. Azor led his team in all five major statistical categories this season, averaging 17.3 points, 9 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 2.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. His 220 assists on the season leads all division III men’s players and his five triple doubles leads all three divisions of men’s college basketball.
“That just means I’m doing my job for the team,” said Azor. “I wouldn’t have achieved most of those stats without the help of my teammates being in the right spot, communicating, and knocking down shots. We have a really good team, and I owe all my success to them.”
“He has a lot of skill sets for the game of basketball. His athleticism, his length, his court knowledge,” said men’s basketball coach, and LEC coach of the year, Brian Baptiste. “The best thing he does is he can get into gaps and create things for himself and for his teammates. He’s also maybe even the best rebounder we have from the point guard position, which is incredible.”
Many events have combined to make the world a different place now than it was in 2018 when Azor first arrived on campus, and he feels he’s learned and grown a lot from each obstacle thrown his way.
“Covid-19 has changed many things, often randomly, which taught me how to prepare for the unexpected,” said Azor. “Becoming more comfortable adapting to the circumstances, whether it be taking classes via Zoom, or working out in my basement, will help me ensure I can accomplish anything in my control to achieve my goals.”
That type of drive and maturity rubs off on his team, who voted him captain for the 2021-2022 season.
“Knowing my teammates trust me to represent them on and off the court means a lot to me,” said Azor. “The leadership experience that comes with representing a team will also help me professionally later in my career.
“I’m proud of my growth, and the growth of our program over the last four years. We’ve progressed from losing our conference semifinals my freshman year to winning the LEC championship last year and gaining some national attention this year. I’m really proud of how far we’ve come.”
Azor, who will be graduating this May, has won conference player of the week three times this year, and been named to D3 Hoops’ team of the week, celebrating the nation’s top five division III players, twice. Also the Most Valuable Player of the LaFrance Hospitality Tournament, Azor says these recognitions are reflections of his teammates, and proof that hard work gets recognized.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to be talked about among the top players in the nation, but none of that is possible without my teammates and coaches,” said Azor. “There is no success without any sacrifice, and all our hard work has paid off this season, but our job is not finished yet. We are still striving to show the nation what UMass Dartmouth basketball is.
“I thank God, my family, coaches, teammates, trainers, friends, and our fans. They’ve all been with me every step of the way, through all the constant training, games, and supporting my determination to get to where I am today. I couldn’t have picked a better basketball program to be a part of. These past four years have been a dream come true. Coach Baptiste, Keyes, and Strothers have been so instrumental in my growth, not only as a player, but also as a man.”
Advice to younger students
“Don’t be afraid to try new things and get involved from the start,” said Azor. “Your experience can only be as great as you make it.”
When asked what his individual goals were for the rest of this season, Azor said he doesn’t have any, but as a team, the Corsairs have one:
“Win. As a team we just want to do whatever it takes to win, and make a run in the NCAA tournament,” said Azor. “We didn’t get that chance last year due to Covid-19 canceling the playoffs, but that has only made us hungrier.”