J.R. Smith is set to make his much-anticipated college golf debut next week.
The former NBA player earned his spot in North Carolina A&T’s five-man lineup for the Phoenix Invitational, hosted by Elon University on Monday-Tuesday at Alamance Country Club in Burlington, North Carolina.
The 36-year-old Smith, who played for five teams in 16 NBA seasons with a short stint in China in between, enrolled at A&T and joined the Aggies’ team in August. He didn’t travel with the squad for its fall opener last month in Newnan, Georgia, but he qualified for next week’s event by a single shot.
“He has a good enough golf game to put up some good numbers,” A&T head coach Richard Watkins said. “But this is what I tell people. If you want to find out how good a golfer really is, put the word tournament or money in front of the round. Playing when there is nothing on the line is one thing. But put meaning to it, and the heart rate changes, the grip on the club changes and we get to see who you really are.”
Alamance, a par 71, will play at 6,867 yards for the tournament, which is 54 holes with 36 holes on Monday followed by the final 18 on Tuesday.
The Aggies were fourth at last month’s HBCU Division I Invitational while senior Xavier Williams won his first career individual title. Williams later became the program’s first golfer to win conference player of the week honors, as the Big South, which A&T joined this year, recognized him after his victory.