J.R. Smith isn’t preparing for a 17th season in the NBA. Instead, on Tuesday, he was finding his was to the classroom on his first day of school.
The former Knick and 16-year NBA veteran was seen walking the halls of North Carolina A&T, where he enrolled in school as a freshman and will try and walk on to the school’s golf team.
Smith announced his enrollment at the school earlier this month, and has been cleared by the NCAA to play for the Aggies, should he make the team. The Aggies’ first match begins on Sept. 24.
“It's going to be fun,” Smith said during a Monday news conference. “Obviously different environments from playing in front of 20,000 people to playing in a college golf gallery…But it's still as nerve-racking as shooting a free throw in front of five thousand instead of making a five-foot putt in front of three. So it all correlates the same for me.”
Smith was originally going to begin his collegiate career at North Carolina following high school, but instead entered the NBA Draft and was a first-round pick. Two NBA titles later, Smith is going back to school, electing to attend North Carolina A&T based on his desire to enroll at one of the Historically Black College and Universities.
As for his golf game, Smith has been playing for more than a decade, has a 5-handicap, and will look to find success in a new forum with his basketball career in the rearview. Now, the 36-year-old is turning his attention from the hardwood to the classroom, and eventually, the links.
“It was probably one of the most exciting feelings I've had in a while,” Smith said of being ruled eligible to play collegiate golf. “I really didn't know how it was going to go…but to be able to actually call myself a student-athlete is a great feeling.”
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