Excel Sports Management already represents many of the world’s top golfers, including Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas. It just added the most famous player in college golf, as well.

J.R. Smith, the former NBA star now attending North Carolina A&T, has signed with Excel to represent him in potential NIL deals on the course. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the deal, citing Excel’s Lance Young.

The NCAA’s new name, image and likeness legislation allows Smith to endorse products through things such as commercials and social media postings. Smith has six million followers on Instagram. He has drawn “significant” interest from equipment companies, clothing manufacturers and video game companies, Young told ESPN.

Smith was drafted into the NBA out of high school in 2004. His 16-year career included two championships – in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers —  and the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year Award. He is in his second semester at North Carolina A&T, an HBCU in Greensboro, North Carolina, where the avid golfer is a member of the men’s golf team.He made his competitive debut for the Aggies in October, shooting 83-78-79.

“Golf is one of those games that has you feeling really high and or can bring you down to your knees and humble you,” Smith said in August. “And to have that feeling and knowing that all of the game’s pretty much on my own hands and I don’t have to worry about teammates to pass the ball and receiving passes and playing defense so, I can play my game and just have fun.”

Smith has said that he wants to serve as a bridge to golf for underrepresented minority groups. He’s already had an impact at A&T. It was announced in December that the school’s golf teams have entered into an agreement with TaylorMade to receive equipment and accessories such as bags, gloves and hats.

“We embrace the growth of golf at (historically black colleges and universities),” said TaylorMade program manager copyrighter Tony Starks. “We want to be a part of that. For TaylorMade, this is a perfect partnership as we strive toward broadening the sport of golf. 

“If it is to have sustained success at HBCUs, recruiting is pivotal. In a positive sense, we want to have a large impact through the visibility of our product with a school like North Carolina A&T. We hope to broaden the audience so that the public at large knows there is great golf played at HBCUs.” 

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