16 year veteran J.R. Smith has fully put his basketball ventures aside to pursue a new dream- GOLF. Earlier this month it was announced Smith would head back to school and pursue a degree in liberal studies while also hoping to play golf. Tuesday afternoon, NCAA cleared J.R. Smith to play golf for the North Carolina A&T State University Aggies- a HBCU.
“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. SmithVia The Undefeated
Smith has never participated in collegiate sports. He originally was recruited by Roy Williams to play for UNC but decided to declare for the NBA Draft. That draft was the final time high school students could avoid going through a year of college before entering the NBA. Smith went on to get drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in the first round with the 18th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.
He had a solid 16 year career collecting two NBA champions and even the 2012-13 Sixth Man award. During his career, he played for five different teams- New Orleans Hornets, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Cleveland cavaliers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Smith played 977 games while averaging 12.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steals a game.
Fortunately for Smith, since he only went pro in basketball, golf is still an avenue he could compete in the college space. The NCAA rules and their committee have sided with him and now he will finally play collegiate sports and be a student athlete.
To stay up to date with Smith and his golfing, you can find his stats here.