BURLINGTON, N.C. — It's never too late to reinvent yourself, but doing so after a solid NBA career would be considered uncommon by most. Don't tell that to JR Smith, though.
The former Cavaliers guard made his college golf debut Monday in North Carolina, competing in the Phoenix Invitational hosted by Elon University. The 36-year-old enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University this past summer and subsequently joined the Aggies men's golf team as a walk-on freshman.
Smith played 16 seasons in the NBA and parts of five with the Cavs, most notably averaging 12.4 points per game during the team's 2016 championship season. He has not played professional basketball for more than a year, and surprised some in August by announcing his intention to attend A&T. He had originally gone to the NBA straight out of high school, but wanted to be part of a historically Black college/university, and the NCAA later declared him eligible to play.
JR qualified for the tournament in practice, doing so by one stroke. In his first 18-hole round Monday at Alamance Country Club in Burlington, he posted a respectable 83 with two birdies on the front nine. Unfortunately, he also had six bogeys and four double bogeys, giving him the worst score among the Aggies' six golfers.
Fortunately, Smith had a chance to recover, as all competitors played 36 holes today before the final round on Tuesday. His second 18 saw him shoot a much more polished 78, although he did bogey four of his last six.
As of 2:45 p.m., North Carolina A&T sits 11th out of 13 teams with a combined score of 11-over-par. Host Elon leads at 32-under, 19 shots ahead of second-place Appalachian State.