By: Kelton Brooks
J.R. Smith has accomplished many feats in his career: made $90,294,854 over 16 seasons, won two NBA championships and knocked down the 16th-most 3-point field goals in league history with 1,930.
But for the first time in his life, Smith can call himself a student athlete. The 16-year NBA veteran skipped college to enter right into the league from Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School in New Jersey.
Smith is now a member of the North Carolina A&T golf team.
“It’s going to be fun,” Smith said in an online 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-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.
“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.”
J.R. Smith is cleared by the NCAA to play golf for @ncatsuaggies!
“It was probably one of the most exciting feelings I’ve had in a while. 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.” – J.R. Smith pic.twitter.com/eEGDOFX86Q
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) August 24, 2021
Smith said he was drawn to the Greensboro, North Carolina, school because of his interest in attending a Historically Black College or University. The NBA and its players have made an effort to shine light on the importance of HBCU traditions and culture.
Like any other student-athlete, Smith will juggle sports and classwork.
“It’s not even a week yet, but as I get into it, I keep getting eager to learn more and join study groups and try to understand and try to really embrace the lifestyle,” Smith said.