NBA champ Smith debuts as college golfer

Aaron BeardAP
Former NBA player JR Smith has drawn a crowd in his debut as a college golfer.
Camera IconFormer NBA player JR Smith has drawn a crowd in his debut as a college golfer. Credit: AP

Retired two-time NBA champion JR Smith has played his first college golf tournament for North Carolina A&T - as a 36-year-old freshman.

Smith has played in packed arenas at the highest level of a global sport but admitted he was nervous playing at Elon's Phoenix Invitational - with scores of 12-over 83 in round one and then a 7-over 78 in round two it showed.

"I was nervous, I was," Smith said.

A year ago, Smith was celebrating an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers after their run through the playoffs in the Florida pandemic bubble.

Smith had since been drawn to the Greensboro school because of his interest in attending a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).

On Monday, Smith's pride came from representing a HBCU for the first time as an Aggies golfer at the two-day event at Alamance Country Club.

"It's great to represent them. It's great for the school to get the recognition because they deserve it, and my fellow classmates," he said.

Smith said he wanted to be just another competitor at the tournament, though he understood the extra attention that came with his debut as his presence drew a mini gallery of about 15 to 20 onlookers.

"More than anything, it's just being able to go out there and compete as one of the guys, just another name, and get my (butt) kicked," Smith said.

"It was actually a very humbling feeling ... I had fun, but I don't like losing."

It's a college experience almost two decades delayed for Smith, who was originally slated to play basketball at North Carolina before jumping from the preps to the NBA to become a first-round pick in 2004.

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