These are the similarities between basketball and golf, according to J.R. Smith

Two-time NBA champion J.R. Smith made headlines in August when he revealed that he was not only going to college, but that he had been cleared by the NCAA to compete on the golf team at North Carolina A&T.

The 36-year-old spent 16 seasons as a professional basketball player and is excited about his new ambition to work toward a liberal arts degree. Smith has shared the ups and downs of his new academic life on his Twitter feed.

In an appearance on this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Smith went into detail on his motivation to educate himself — as well as his intention to try to play college golf. As it turns out, basketball and golf aren’t all that different, according to Smith.

J.R. Smith playing golf
J.R. Smith explains why he didn’t go to college the first time he had the opportunity
By: Jessica Marksbury

“For me, more than anything, it’s practicing with a purpose,” Smith said. “When I hit the range, it’s not just hitting a couple balls anymore and just going and trying to play the course. It’s more about trajectory, flighting shots, trying to work the ball left to right, right to left. There’s so much more detail into it. I relate to it, again, being a shooter, it’s like shooting corner threes, or whatever your favorite spot is. There’s different ways to get to your spot, there’s different ways — like a reaction to how the defense is guarding you, stuff like that.

“But at the end of the day, all of this (motions a throwing motion with one arm) stays the same,” Smith continued. “Your release and your confidence, your mechanics. All of those things that I’ve learned as a kid, I’ve just put the time and hours in to do it over and over and over again to where it’s second nature. So that’s pretty much the same thing with golf. If you can put the time and hours in consistently, stay with a purpose in your practice, then I feel like the sky’s the limit.”

For more from Smith — including his golf heroes, and why he decided not to attend college the first time around, check out the full interview below. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on