Kernel Editorial: UK basketball players making smart career moves by turning pro

All five of UK’s starters announced on Tuesday their intentions to forgo the rest of their college careers and enter the NBA draft this June.

The issue of college players leaving early to turn professional has had its fair share of debate in recent years as it becomes more and more common, and there have proven to be many sides to the issue.

Over the last few decades, the reason people attend college has shifted. When fields were general and majors less specific, most came to college simply to learn. As fields have become more specialized and majors increasingly specific, the majority of students arguably attend college presently in order to secure a job upon graduation.

These five players secured a job, and they did so at record-setting pace.  Forget trying to attain a high-paying job after four, or perhaps even three years of college; these players will earn the big bucks after one.

It is hard to argue against their decision, for it is true that nearly all of us as students have the same mindset monetarily as do they. Certainly the vast majority of college students would leave early and choose to pay a lesser amount of tuition if they had a high-paying job waiting for them at their departure date of choice.

In the past several years, UK has become the trademark university when it comes to basketball players leaving early to turn professional.  A slew of players have come through its doors being rather certain that they will leave after just one year to head off to the NBA. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are a few examples.

Players leaving college early to play a professional sport certainly makes sense, but perhaps we should re-evaluate what it means to be a student athlete in today’s climate. If academically benefiting is the purpose of attending college, then athletes leaving college early would seem to be putting their athletic experience above their learning experience.

There is a fine line between identifying oneself as a student and putting one’s profession above all else, whatever that may be.