Only one season after his graduation from Elon University, former single-season 3-point field goal record holder Jack Isenbarger was outdone by former teammate, junior guard Tanner Samson.
Samson has trumped the previous record, 82 three-point field goals made, making 98 of his own this season. The statistic has gained him national recognition. With his current number, Samson is ranked first in the Colonial Athletic Association and fifth nationally for 3-point field goals made. When asked about his accomplishment, Samson gave credit to his teammates.
“My teammates have done a good job finding me when I’m open, especially when I’m hot,” Samson said. “Not just the guards, but the big men setting good screens to get me open as well.”
On a broader scale, he still has time left in the season to advance in the charts.
The forward needs only two triples to pass George Mason University’s Donald Ross and College of William & Mary’s David Schneider for fifth in league history.
For Elon, Samson sits at fourth all-time in career 3-pointers with 234. He sits eight away from another former teammate Sebastian Koch, who had 242 in his career. At the top of the list are two former single season three-point leaders: Chris Kriger (259) and Isenbarger (264).
“He’s been a joy to coach. He’s a great person, and he’s a great shooter,” said head coach Matt Matheny. “He’s been consistent every year, and he’s worked hard to improve every aspect of his game.”
Since arriving at Elon, Samson has made his presence known to opponents. In his rookie season, Samson played in 32 games, averaging 7.1 points per game and shooting 90.9 percent from the free throw line. He scored in double figures in 10 games.
Elon reached the Southern Conference semifinal that season, but lost to the College of Charleston. Following his rookie season, Samson improved his numbers, raising his points per game average to 9.4 and sinking 79 3-pointers.
Now a junior and with two full seasons under his belt, Samson has decided to lead by example on the court. This season, he ranks first in 3-point field goal percentage, rebounds, steals and minutes played.
“[His teammates] see him with his feet set and they start saying things,” Matheny said. “I don’t know what they’re saying, but they’re so confident in his ability. It’s like the whole team is in there with him.”
While the team posted a regular season record of 14-17 and a conference record of only 6-12, it has earned a No. 8 seed in the CAA Championship tournament in Baltimore. Elon has won its last three games and has defeated two of the top-ranked teams in the conference: Northeastern University and University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
“Winning a few games in a row here at the end feels great,” Samson said. “Getting hot at this time, you got people playing well and you want your best basketball in March.”
While the team is still focusing on finishing strong this season, Matheny spoke of his vision for Samson in the future.
“We rely heavily on our seniors for leadership,” Matheny said. “Tanner’s not waiting for his senior season to be a leader, but when the torch is passed down to him, he’s got to carry it high.”