JR Smith: two-time NBA champion heads to college with his eyes on golf

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JR Smith may be 35, but that doesn’t mean his athletic dreams are extinct.

Smith, a 16-year-old NBA veteran, enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University with the intention of joining the college’s golf team.
He is mainly pursuing a degree in liberal studies – his classes begin Aug. 18 – but he is waiting for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to determine his eligibility before applying for the team of one of the best in the country. Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

Smith skipped college and went straight from high school to the NBA in 2004, but said he started thinking about going to college while on a trip to the Dominican Republic with Hall of Famer Ray Allen.

“Golf is one of those games that makes you feel really good and / or can bring you to your knees and humiliate you,” said Smith, who is a two-time NBA champion. Recount WFMY News 2 Sports Wednesday before the pro-am at the Wyndham Championship.
Smith hits his tee shot on the 10th hole before the Northern Trust at Ridgewood Country Club on August 22, 2018.
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“And having that feeling and knowing that the whole game is pretty much in my hands, and I don’t have to worry about teammates passing the ball and receiving assists and playing defense, so I can play my game and just have fun. “

Smith can often be seen among the gallery at PGA Tour events – and he says he plays with a handicap of five.

He has asked the NCAA to be eligible to play, but it’s unclear how long that process will take.

According to NCAA rules: “An individual will not be eligible for intercollegiate athletics in a sport if he has previously competed on a professional team in that sport. ”

It does not prohibit a former professional athlete from competing in another sport.

Richard Watkins, who coaches both the college’s men’s and women’s teams, said Smith’s arrival was “a big deal”.

“It’s a big deal for A&T. It’s a big deal for him,” said Watkins, who was in Smith’s gallery on Wednesday. “It’s not very often that someone in their position really has the opportunity to have a thought, a dream, an idea, and to be able to go ahead and move in that direction.
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“He’s a former professional athlete, but (it’s) a unique set of circumstances. He didn’t go to college, never entered, the clock never started.”

The 6-foot-6 shooting guard has played professionally for a multitude of NBA teams, winning NBA titles with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.



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