Former NBA player JR Smith enrolls at North Carolina A&T, will play golf

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Former NBA player J.R. Smith is trading in a basketball for a bag of golf clubs.

Smith, a 16-year NBA veteran who won two championships during his playing days, will walk on as a freshman and play for the North Carolina A&T men’s golf team. 

Smith, 36, was a part of an online news conference on Monday and talked about his future at the school.

“It’s going to be fun,” Smith said via ESPN. “Obviously different environments from playing in front of 20,000 people to playing in a college golf gallery… But it’s still as nerve-wracking as shooting a free throw in front of 5,000 instead of making a 5-foot putt in front of three. So it all correlates the same for me.”

Smith decided to enroll at North Carolina A&T because he was interested in attending an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Smith, the 18th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, played high school basketball at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey. At that time, he was expected to play college hoops for the North Carolina Tar Heels, but he decided to turn pro instead.

Smith, a two-time NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, was honored as the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. While playing for five teams, Smith scored more than 12,000 points over his career. 

Smith will now take on a new challenge. The former guard said that he’s been playing golf for about 12 years, but he’s been taking the game more seriously as of late. Smith, who never hired a swing coach, said that went to the driving range often and he picked up tips while watching the Golf Channel.

“I just know how to compete with myself,” Smith said. “As being a shooter and with golf, it correlates to trying to hit different shots and your creativity, and that swing and try to have that flow and tempo.”

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