J.R. Smith is going back to school to play golf.
J.R. Smith is the Manny Ramirez of the NBA; a man who just marches to the beat of his own drum, and good for him. The former Cavs’ guard, who was a part of the 2016 Championship squad, is going back to school to try and wants to try his hand at collegiate golf. Smith is enrolling at North Carolina A&T and has petitioned the NCAA to play golf for the school. Technically, he should be eligible, as he was drafted into the NBA out of high school, bypassing college.
The undcertainty stems from an NCAA rule;
"…an individual shall not be eligible for intercollegiate athletics in a sport if the individual ever competed on a professional team in that sport."
The rule, however, is designed to keep guys like Smith from going to college to compete in the sport they became a pro in. Since Smith played for the NBA and not the PGA, there shouldn’t be any issues with getting eligible. As ESPN points out, Chris Weinke did this, after playing pro baseball, he enrolled in college and ended up winning the Heisman Trophy in 2000.
Former Browns quarterback, Brandon Weeden, also did this, coming from baseball to football.
Smith credits NBA legend, Ray Allen, with his decision to go back to school. Telling reporters at the pro-am at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina (via ESPN);
"Ray Allen kind of convinced me. We had a little golf trip in [the Dominican Republic] and he was talking about some of the things he was doing, about going back to school and challenging yourself for us athletes. I really took heed to it and decided to go back…"
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J.R. Smith should go for it
Smith is a two-time NBA Champion with the Cavs and Lakers and hasn’t played since the end of the 2019-2020 season where he won his second title. He’ll be 36 years old soon, and will likely be retiring from pro basketball in the not too distant future, so why not take a swing at something like collegiate golf?
It’s not like his pro career in the NBA is going to be going any further at this point. He’s no longer the player he once was and unfortunately, the 2018 Finals performance still lingers around his name to this day.
There are not many suitors lining up to sign him at the moment, so the smart money is going back to school and working on a degree and one’s golf swing.
Smith is carving out his own path and he’s certainly his own man in that regard. While Smith going to play golf is pretty funny in a tongue-in-cheek way, since he’s always been a unique person during his pro days, it shouldn’t be disrespected. Him going to college as a way to challenge himself is a good idea.