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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Exodus

Champions of the league, and the nation.  Congratulations to our departing Wildcats.  May their careers be blessed.
Champions of the league, and the nation. Congratulations to our departing Wildcats. May their careers be blessed.

Well, the press conference is over, and the result was a surprise ... to no one. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague are all declaring themselves available for the NBA draft. There is no more "testing the waters," for all intents and purposes. In this case, the decisions are final and irrevocable.

I want to thank all these guys for the outstanding effort they gave at Kentucky, both in the classroom and out of it. Along with their departing senior teammates Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas as well as freshman returnee Kyle Wiltjer, they proved all the naysayers wrong, and did it not just in style, but in a way that reflects tremendous credit on them, the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Big Blue Nation. In short, they made us proud, and never gave us even a tiny reason to regret having them here.

Related: Mike DeCourcy's Sporting News Column

This is a proud day for the Kentucky Wildcats program, coach John Calipari, the university, and the fans. While it is far from ideal to have young people depart an academic institution short of completing their courses of study, it is becoming clear that preparing young people to live their dreams, whatever they are, is at least as important as a degree, especially when the studies can be finished at a time more convenient time.

Some, but not all, will likely come back to finish their degree program, but athletics, particularly basketball, is a young man's game. NBA players are the most highly paid professional athletes among all the major sports, and as such, every year an NBA career is delayed for athletes as skilled as Kentucky's underclassmen represents several millions of dollars. It's hard to argue a college degree at the University of Kentucky could provide that much return on investment in an entire lifetime, let alone in a single year.

So join me in congratulating the now-former Kentucky Wildcats starting five as they embark upon their new careers. May it be every bit as successful as their stay at the University of Kentucky.