JR Smith dominated headlines when he announced he would play college golf, but his intention was always to excel academically.
On Monday, Smith was named North Carolina A&T’s Academic Athlete of the Year thanks to his 4.0 GPA in the 2021-22 school year.
Having retired from the NBA in 2020, Smith was reportedly inspired to get his college degree by Hall of Famer Ray Allen during a golf trip to the Dominican Republic.
Smith went pro straight from high school in the 2004 NBA Draft — one of the last draft classes allowed to do so before the NBA changed its eligibility rules following the 2005 Draft.
The 36-year-old freshman is also taking advantage of college sports’ NIL era: He recently became the first male golfer to endorse Lululemon.
Smith made over $90 million in career earnings over his 16-year NBA career.