The NCAA on Tuesday ruled former two-time NBA champion J.R. Smith eligible to play golf at North Carolina A&T.
The ruling comes a day after Smith officially began classes at the school, located in Greensboro, N.C.
“It was probably one of the most exciting feelings I’ve had in a while,” Smith told The Undefeated on Tuesday. “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.”
Smith went straight from high school in New Jersey into the NBA draft.
The freshman, who turns 36 next month, joined the A&T golf team as a walk-on. Smith, who says he has a 5 handicap, will pursue a liberal studies degree.
“It’s going to be fun,” Smith said Monday. “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 5,000 instead of making a 5-foot putt in front of three. So it all correlates the same for me.”
The 16-year NBA vet last appeared in the league in 2019-20, when he saw game action six times for the Los Angeles Lakers. A former first-round pick of the then-New Orleans Hornets in 2004, the guard has career averages of 12.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest over 977 career games (395 starts).
He played for the Hornets (2004-06), Denver Nuggets (2006-11), New York Knicks (2011-15), Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-19) and Lakers.
Smith won NBA championships with the Cavaliers in 2016 and Lakers in 2020.