Former NBA star J.R. Smith went straight from high school basketball to the pros. Now he’s hoping to use his NCAA eligibility on a different sport altogether.
Smith, 35, has enrolled at North Carolina A&T and is attempting to make the school’s golf team.
Smith revealed his plans to reporters at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship on Wednesday, where he was playing in the pro-am.
NBA legend Ray Allen got Smith interested in pursuing college during a conversation they had while on a vacation to the Dominican Republic.
“He was talking about some of the things he was doing by going back to school, challenging yourself and stuff for us athletes,” Smith said.
Smith, who says he has a 5 handicap, will pursue a liberal studies degree at NC A&T, an HBCU in Greensboro, N.C.
The 16-year NBA vet last appeared in the league in 2019-20, when he saw game action six times for the Los Angeles Lakers. A former first-round pick of the then-New Orleans Hornets in 2004, the guard has career averages of 12.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest over 977 career games (395 starts).
He played for the Hornets (2004-06), Denver Nuggets (2006-11), New York Knicks (2011-15), Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-19) and Lakers.
In recent years, he’s perhaps best remembered for dribbling out the clock at the end of regulation in an NBA Finals Game 1 when he believed the Cavaliers were in the lead, but the score was in fact tied — frustrating teammate LeBron James.
With golf, Smith said he’s looking forward to the individual nature of the sport.
“Golf is one of those games that can have you feeling really high or bring you down to your knees and humble you,” Smith said. “To have that feeling and knowing that all of the game is pretty much on my own hands, and I don’t have to worry about teammates to pass the ball to or receiving passes and playing defense. I can just play my game and just have fun.”
–Field Level Media