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Wednesday April 11, 2001

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NBA-bound players should pursue dreams

The UA men's basketball team is slowly losing its top players.

That's because junior forward Richard Jefferson and, as of yesterday, junior forward Michael Wright, have declared they are leaving school to enter the NBA Draft.

"I think we are all working toward the goal of being professionals, and I think this is my time to go after it with all my energies," Wright said yesterday in a press release.

He couldn't be closer to the truth.

When students enter college, they go in with the intent of preparing themselves for the "real" world - and hopefully a professional career in the field of their choice.

For Jefferson and Wright, that field is basketball.

Although some might sadly shake their heads at Jefferson and Wright's decisions to quit school early, who are we to say this does not qualify as fulfillment of their college dreams?

Ironically, the very people spending their days motivating players to achieve greatness are the same ones bothered by the increase of basketball players willing to drop out of school to go pro.

UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough said he is irritated with the push for college basketball players, as well as high school players, to skip out on college careers to play ball.

"You can never have those college years back," he said. "Whether it's interacting, having team meals, living in the dorms or learning to pay bills, the maturation process is not the same. If you go straight into the NBA, you're being fed to the wolves."

Maybe so, coach. But for Jefferson and Wright, entering the NBA Draft is the fulfillment of their professional goals and personal dreams.

Josh Pastner, the undergraduate assistant coach for the team, put the situation into perspective when he said, "It's the ultimate dream of basketball players everywhere. (Turning down the money) is easier said than done. When you're that close, it's hard to say no."

The same rings true to all students.

It is hard to say no to that dream job offer across the country which will force you to move away from your family and friends.

It is hard to say no to that prestigious volunteering opportunity you have worked hard to receive which will require you to take a leave from school for a little while.

Essentially, it is hard to say no to the opportunity to fulfill something you have worked toward for so long.

Such is the scenario for Jefferson and Wright.

What it boils down to is that college is what each individual makes of it. For some, the successful college experience means graduating with a degree and going on to become successful as a result of that degree.

For others - Jefferson and Wright - the college experience means participating in a team sport, gaining experience and recognition as a top player and moving on to pursue that sport at a professional level.

We all have visions for what we'd like to do with our lives. Jefferson and Wright envisioned the NBA, and that's exactly what they should get.

Staff Editorials represent the collaborative stance of the Wildcat Opinions Board.