NBA Draft 2012: Don't Cry for Kentucky's Phenom Freshmen Who Left Early

Kendrick MarshallCorrespondent IMay 1, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - APRIL 17:  Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb,Terrence Jones, John Calipari the Kentucky Wildcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague talks with the media during the news conference in which all five players announced  they will enter the NBA draft at Joe Craft Center on April 17, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

David J. Pate Jr.'s heart is broken after seeing that Kentucky's entire starting five decided to enter June's NBA draft.

Pate, who is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, wrote a piece that appeared on CNN's website lamenting how these poor African-American young men had no other option but to forgo their collegiate and social experiences to chase a professional basketball dream.

Unlike Pate, my heart does not break for Anthony Davis, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague.

I applaud them. I give a one-man standing ovation to the group of underclassmen for making the proper business decision. 

It's not as if these kids are dropping out of school to get into the pornography industry.

So many talking heads, Monday morning quarterbacks, former curmudgeon head coaches and flat-out haters (I couldn't think of a better word) chide student-athletes for cheating the integrity of all that is wholesome and amateur about college basketball to pursue wealth.

What 95 percent of us fail to realize is that not all one-and-dones or two-and-dones are the same.

What percentage of college basketball players at this very moment are in school because the NBA won't take them? All of them. They are sophomores, juniors and seniors.

What makes you think those athletes don't want to be in the NBA, like, yesterday?

And let's not assume just because a player left early for the NBA means he didn't have a desire to be a student and live the collegiate lifestyle. Those athletes left because of the money they could get right now. 

That's smart. Somebody wants to offer you millions for your talent, you get the millions as soon as possible. Carousing on the quad be damned.

Additionally, remember this: When you go back to school, you're signing to play for free instead of playing for money. These athletes only have a limited time to reap the financial benefits of the bodies and skills they've been honing since middle school. Everybody else has three or four decades post-graduation to cash in on their degree—if they are able to land a job in their desired field, of course.

According to a recent report, one in two new graduates is jobless or unemployed. A weak labor market has already left young grads underemployed in lower-wage jobs that don't fully utilize the skills and knowledge they acquired through four or five years at a university.

So, shouldn't we direct our anger and disappointment at debt-causing universities that incrementally raise tuition and fees every year, and those who have influence over who puts the masses to work rather than 18-year-old basketball players?

That would be too difficult of a task. It is easier for the soapbox brigade—which already harbors resentment and envy of the gifted athlete—to make themselves feel less insecure by being critical of youngsters who have taken advantage of a system designed to restrain them.

Don't cry for the one-and-dones who have to choose between a guaranteed paid roster spot on an NBA team or staying on the conveyor belt that unapologetically attempts to exploit them at every turn.

Cry for those who have no choice but to stay on the conveyor belt.