He’s charting a new course!
Former NBA superstar J.R. Smith enrolled at North Carolina A&T and is set to play golf for the Aggies, Blavity reports.
Smith is a two-time NBA champion, winning one with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. Now that he has retired from the league, he’s decided to pursue a degree in liberal studies at North Carolina A&T. Smith said he also has plans to join the golf team.
The NCAA allows student-athletes five years to compete in four seasons. Because Smith never took advantage of playing collegiate basketball, he still retains all of his eligibility.
“They always told me I could go back [to school] whenever. So, this is whenever,” said Smith.
J.R. Smith is headed back to college 🎓— Front Office Sports (@FOS) August 11, 2021
The 2x NBA champ will enroll at North Carolina A&T to pursue a degree in liberal studies.
Smith started golfing 12 years ago and is looking to join the Aggies golf team.
(🎥: @PGATOUR) pic.twitter.com/cIZIu6LdKL
He said he was inspired to return to school after a conversation with Hall of Famer Ray Allen during a golfing event in the Dominican Republic.
“Ray Allen kind of convinced me. We had a little golf trip in [the Dominican Republic], and he was talking about some of the things he was doing, about going back to school and challenging yourself for us athletes. I really took heed to it and decided to go back -- and one of the best liberal studies programs is at A&T,” said Smith.
About 12 years ago, Smith took to golf after attending a charity event hosted by the late great Moses Malone. While riding in the cart, Malone encouraged Smith to get out and try to hit the ball. On his first try, the ball traveled 300 yards, and Smith was hooked. Golf, unlike basketball, is a solo sport, something Smith said he appreciates about the game.
“Golf is one of those games that has you feeling really high and or can bring you down to your knees and humble you. And to have that feeling and knowing that all of the game’s pretty much on my own hands and I don’t have to worry about teammates to pass the ball and receiving passes and playing defense so, I can play my game and just have fun,” said Smith.
Now 35-year-old Smith plans to play with the Aggies golf team in addition to pursuing his studies. Richard Watkings, A&T golf coach for both the women’s and men’s teams, said Smith joining the roster is pivotal for the HBCU.
“It’s a big deal for A&T. It’s a big deal for him. It’s not very often that somebody in his position really has an opportunity to have a thought, a dream, an idea, and to be able to go ahead and move in that direction,” said Watkins.
The golf season for the Aggies begins in spring 2022. Congratulations, J.R. Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Tracy Wilcox/PGA Tour