J.R. Smith never went to college. The opportunity was there, sure — but he instead elected to become one of the last players to make the jump straight from high school to the NBA in 2004. After a 17 year career, two NBA Championships and a 6th Man of the Year award he’s heading back to college — and to make it even better, he’s becoming a golfer.
Smith enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, a HBCU located in Greensboro, North Carolina where he’s pursuing a degree in liberal studies. Now he’s secured NCAA eligibility for the first time, and is going to play golf for the Aggies.
"Very special. I can't wait to be part of an HBCU Family." great to talk with @TheRealJRSmith here at @WyndhamChamp Pro-Am. Smith is enrolling at @ncatsuaggies (went to NBA straight from HS) and hopes to get NCAA Clearance to play on the @NCATAGGIES Golf Team. @WFMY #wfmysports pic.twitter.com/GzWuiVb95Q— Brian Hall (@bhallwfmy) August 11, 2021
Far from a gimmick, Smith is an extremely accomplished golfer who has been working on his game for years. The former Knicks guard said as early at 2014 that he wanted to play on the PGA Tour one day, so enrolling as a college golfer is just one step towards that dream. It’s also wonderful that he’s committed to finishing his education at a school like NC A&T, regarded as one of the best HBCUs in the country.
It would be easy for Smith to coast for the rest of his life on his NBA earnings and accomplishments, but he’s challenging himself in a new way. Smith credits Ray Allen with pushing him to enroll, saying the pair were playing golf and talking about their lives after basketball. J.R. also said he has “deep roots” in North Carolina, largely because of Chris Paul. Smith and Paul are extremely close, with Paul being godfather to Smith’s children, and CP3 grew up in nearby Winston Salem, so he has intimate knowledge of the area.
All this hits especially close to home for me. I lived in Greensboro for almost 20 years, and have family still in the area. Now, I know I’m pitching this to an EXTREMELY narrow audience of specifically J.R. Smith and nobody else, but I don’t care — I want to give him some Greensboro tips.
7 Tips about living in Greensboro for J.R. Smith
No. 1: Go to Yum Yums and get a hot dog
On the campus of UNC Greensboro, Yum Yums is a Greensboro institution that has been around for almost 100 years. The hot dogs are those unnatural red, they’re not especially great — but they are cheap and a part of the fabric of the community. I’m not saying J.R. Smith should go there for the food, but to stop people asking him “You been to Yum Yums yet?”
No. 2: DO eat a burger at Emma Keys
Unquestionably my favorite burger in town, Emma Keys is a small local joint located on Walker Ave. It’s the perfect quick-bite restaurant for the family and their burgers are perfection.
No. 3: A beer at Joymongers is a must-have
I don’t know if you’re a beer drinker, J.R. — but still, it’s worth checking out Joymongers. There’s always a good food truck there, and they brew the best beer in the area, bar none. Plus on the weekends there’s always a huge amount of families there so your kids can play on the lawn while you kick it and have a cold one.
No. 4: Hit up Dame’s Chicken and Waffles
Bourbon maple syrup. Nuff said. Seriously, Dame’s has some of the best chicken in town, and it’s not far from A&T’s campus downtown on MLK Boulevard. Hit it up.
No. 5: Take the kids to the Greensboro Natural Science Center
Part museum, part zoo — there’s always something amazing happening at the science center. It’s an awesome outing for the kids in a town that otherwise, honestly, has very little going on outside of eating and shopping.
No. 6: I KNOW you’re going to take part in A&T homecoming
The biggest party in Greensboro every year, the homecoming parties for A&T in October are legendary. Headlined by a huge concert at the Greensboro Colosseum, it’s a must-attend event, especially as an A&T student. I have nothing else to offer here, because you’re an A&T student — your classmates will tell you what’s up immediately.
No. 7: Most of all, have fun
Greensboro is a lovely city, a great place to raise a family and an area that is becoming cooler with every passing day. Enjoy your time in the city and kill it on the links!