BURLINGTON, N.C. — JR Smith couldn’t help but feel anxious.
Sure, he had spent 16 years playing in the NBA, making millions and winning two world championships in packed arenas at the highest level of a global sport. But he had never been in the situation like he was Monday: lining up tee shots as a 36-year-old freshman walk-on playing his first college golf tournament for North Carolina A&T at Elon’s Phoenix Invitational.
“I was nervous, I was,” said Smith, who shot a 12-over-par 83 in Round 1 and then a 7-over 78 in Round 2. “I didn’t really know what to expect.”
That’s easy to understand considering how massive of a change it represents for Smith. Exactly one year earlier, to the day, he was a shirtless part of an on-court celebration with LeBron James after the Los Angeles Lakers had just closed out an NBA title run 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, which follows a push by the NBA and its players to support HBCU traditions and culture in this year’s All-Star Game in Atlanta.
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.
“We’re such a small part of the percentage of the country, let alone the budgeting system,” Smith said with a laugh. “Because I see everybody else has got vans and all this other stuff. But it’s great. It’s great to represent them. It’s great for the school to get the recognition because they deserve it, and my fellow classmates.
“That’s what I’m most excited about: to be able to come back to campus and my teammates have their head held high with a victory coming from a tournament is what we look for.”
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.
“I was pretty pleased…
Source : espn