The NCAA ruled Tuesday that 16-year NBA veteran J.R. Smith will be eligible to play golf at North Carolina A&T.
Smith, who skipped playing college basketball after high school and instead entered the pros, will serve as the latest example of an athlete playing professionally in one sport before returning to school to compete in the NCAA in another sport.
“It was probably one of the most exciting feelings I've had in a while," Smith told The Undefeated. "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, who turns 36 next month, said he is focused on completing class assignments and working on his golf game.
“It’s going to be fun,” Smith said Monday 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-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.”
He said he has been playing golf for about 12 years. Aggies head coach Richard Watkins said of Smith's addition that, "The performance of my golf team just got a helping hand because the young man in question is definitely a good player."
As part of the college experience, though, Smith is also re-acquainting himself with school work. On Sunday, at 9:47 p.m. ET, he fired off a tweet saying, "My first deadline is at midnight." So he had just a little over two hours to wrap up his assignment.
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