Update August 24th: Smith has been cleared by the NCAA, and will be eligible to play this fall.
J.R. Smith is officially an NCAA athlete. pic.twitter.com/LoYdVcNadD— theScore (@theScore) August 24, 2021
Former two-time NBA champion JR Smith is looking to make his mark in a different sport, as he’s looking to enroll at North Carolina A&T University with the intention of joining the men’s golf team.
If you’re wondering how a 35-year-old, 16-season NBA vet can still be eligible to play in college, Smith was drafted straight out of Saint Benedict’s in New Jersey by the New Orleans Hornets with the 18th pick in 2004. Since he never enrolled in college, his eligibility clock never started. So assuming he’s not actually enrolled in an on-campus class anywhere while in the NBA, he’s got five years to play four seasons just like any 17-year-old pimply-faced freshman.
Smith was part of the Lakers 2020 NBA Championship team in the bubble in Orlando, but hasn’t played in the league since. He made over $90 million in his NBA career, so we don’t think he’s doing this for the NIL rights that come with it.
NCA&T is a Division I, historically black school in Greensboro, North Carolina. They play in the MEAC Conference and finished second at the conference championships last season, 19 shots back of winner Florida A&M University.
This should be a fun story to follow if Smith can get in the mix at this level of collegiate golf, and hopefully bring attention to the sport which is popular at many HBCU’s. A&T has yet to release a men’s golf schedule for the upcoming season, but the sport now has tournaments in both the fall and spring so look for that information soon.