J.R. Smith, retired two-time NBA champion, is enrolled at N.C. A&T

NBA champion J.R. Smith is enrolling at North Carolina A&T, and he may play for its golf team

Former NBA standout JR Smith has enrolled at North Carolina A&T and intends to join the historically Black university’s men’s golf team if he gets cleared by the NCAA, the university confirmed on Wednesday.

“They always told me I could go back (to school) whenever,” said Smith, who had committed to the University of North Carolina.

So, after finishing as the co-MVP at the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2004, Smith opted to head directly to the NBA. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard played professionally for 16 seasons and won NBA titles with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.

The 35-year-old is retired now and about to embark on a new adventure, enrolling at North Carolina A&T State University, one of the nation’s top HBCUs, to pursue a degree in liberal studies. Maybe those NBA scouts were right after all.

“So, this is whenever,” said Smith, shortly before he split the fairway with his opening drive during the pro-am at the Wyndham Championship.

“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 Richard Watkins, A&T’s men’s and women’s golf coach who was watching Smith this week at the Wyndham Pro-Am. “He’s a former professional athlete, but (it’s) a unique set of circumstances. He didn’t go to college, never matriculated, the clock never started.”

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.”

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