Smith hits his tee shot on the 9th hole during the Phoenix Invitational at Alamance Country Club.
CNN  — 

Two-time NBA champion JR Smith made his college golf debut on Monday exactly a year to the day after he won an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Smith, a 16-year NBA veteran, enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University in August, with the hopes of playing on the university’s golf team.

After making the team, the 36-year-old made his debut at the Elon Phoenix Invitational at Alamance Country Club.

And Smith got off to a pretty solid start, making two birdies in the first five holes. He remained in the middle of the leaderboard through the front nine at one over par.

However, on the home stretch, things took a turn for the worse as he made six consecutive bogeys and then a double bogey on his 17th hole before finishing with another bogey to shoot a 10-over 81.

In his second round of the day, it followed a similar pattern: a good start with a difficult finish.

He finished with a 7-over 78 to move up a few spots in the leaderboard.

Although he’s had experience of playing in some of basketball’s biggest moments in front of millions of people, Smith admitted he was nervous before teeing off.

“I was nervous. I was,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect.”

Despite Smith’s up-and-down rounds, former teammate and NBA superstar LeBron James expressed his admiration for the debutant golfer. In a tweet, James wrote, “HOW AMAZING IS THIS MAN!!! DAMN IM BEYOND PROUD OF MY BROTHER!”

Smith skipped going to college and went straight from high school to the NBA in 2004 but said he began thinking about going to college during a trip to the Dominican Republic with Hall of Famer Ray Allen.

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Smith warms up with his fellow competitors before the Phoenix Invitational.

He is primarily pursuing a degree in liberal studies – his classes started on August 18 – but he is now playing golf for one of the nation’s top historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The 6-foot-6 shooting guard played professionally for a host of NBA teams, winning NBA titles with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.