Former NBA star JR Smith to play first college golf tournament

Former Los Angeles Laker JR Smith. Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images / AFP

Two-time NBA champion JR Smith will make his debut as a college golfer next week.

North Carolina A&T, where he is a member of the men’s golf team, announced Friday that Smith qualified to compete in the Phoenix Invitational on Monday and Tuesday. The tournament will be held at the 6,867-yard par 71 Alamance Country Club in Burlington, North Carolina.

Smith enrolled in the school this fall.

Despite his extensive experience in high-pressure situations, Smith will go through a different level of competition than he’s used to on the field at celebrity events, coach Richard Watkins said.

“He has a good enough golf game to get good numbers,” said Watkins of Smith, who says he has a handicap of 5. “But this is what I tell people. If you want to know how good a golfer really is, put the word tournament or money at the beginning of the round. Playing when nothing is at stake is one thing. But if we make sense of it, the heart rate changes. Control over the club changes and we can see who you really are. “

Smith is a 36-year-old freshman. This is his first college experience: He went straight from high school to the NBA draft and is pursuing liberal studies. He’s been tweeting about college life in recent months.

The 16-year NBA veteran last appeared in the league in 2019-20, when he watched game action six times for the Los Angeles Lakers. A former first-round pick for the then New Orleans Hornets in 2004, the point guard has career averages of 12.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 977 career games (395 starts).

He played for the Hornets (2004-06), Denver Nuggets (2006-11), New York Knicks (2011-15), Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-19), and Lakers.

Smith won NBA championships with the Cavaliers in 2016 and the Lakers in 2020 and was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2012-13.

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