North Carolina rapper J. Cole takes act to a pro basketball team. Find out where.

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Fayetteville’s own Jermaine Cole, better known as hip-hop artist J. Cole is changing his status with the game of basketball from hobby to part-time job.

According to NBA reporter Shams Charania, Cole signed to play in the Basketball Africa League for three to six games with the Rwanda B.BC. Patriots. Former N.C. State forward Brandon Costner is also on that roster. Their first game will be Sunday against Nigeria.

N.C. State men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts is not surprised to see Cole signed with a league. Cole was playing in pickup games with former Wolfpack star T.J. Warren at the Dail Basketball Practice Facility on campus when Keatts first met him. Keatts said Cole has good size for a guard, can shoot the ball well and overall is a ‘really, really good basketball player.”

“When I saw it (news of his signing), I wasn’t shocked,” Keatts told The News & Observer. “I was actually like that’s very interesting, because he can play.”

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A walk-on at St. John’s?

Cole, 36, has a love of hoops that goes back to his days playing for Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville. He did attempt to play as a walk-on for St. John’s University, although he never appeared in a game or earned a letter.

Norm Roberts, who was then the head coach at St. John’s and currently an assistant coach at Kansas, said he frequently jokes with his former St. John’s assistants that he shouldn’t have let them handle the walk-on tryouts.

“I do remember him trying out, he probably should have made it, but we ended up keeping a couple other guys,” Roberts told the N&O. “Had I known he rapped so good and could sing so well, he would have definitely made it and would have gotten playing time, too.”

Shooting hoops at NC State, UNC

When Cole is in the Triangle, he was known for stopping by the basketball facilities at N.C. State and North Carolina — pre-COVID-19 pandemic — to get shots up. Access to both schools is extremely limited now due to COVID protocols.

The most public Cole sighting came in 2019 when he was shooting at a basket in the Dean E. Smith Center just as UNC’s men’s basketball media day began. Cole Anthony, the former Tar Heels point guard, went over and greeted him as he wrapped up his workout.

Cole’s basketball endeavor shouldn’t interfere with his day job. His latest album, “The Off-Season,” drops Friday. He also has a documentary on the making of his album called “Applying Pressure” released on YouTube Monday.

Basketball Africa is a joint venture between the NBA and FIBA. It was supposed to launch a year ago but was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are 12 teams competing that earn their spot in BAL through their respective domestic leagues.

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