I'm not sure what University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is supposed to do differently.

His job is to recruit the best players, season after season, to keep his program at a national championship level.

If each year a freshman or two or three decide to jump from Lexington and chase their fortunes in the NBA, well, then, that's the way the game is played.

You don't whine. You replace.

If the administration at Kentucky is willing to sell part of its academic integrity to be a momentary pit stop for basketball players on their way to the NBA, Calipari is obligated to use that to his best advantage.

And, boy, has Calipari taken advantage of that.

Friday night, Kentucky began the defense of its 2012 NCAA Championship by counting four freshmen among its top seven players against the University of Maryland.

That's primarily because three freshmen from last season's team were selected in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft, including Anthony Davis, the first overall pick, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the second overall. Sophomore Terrence Jones also went in the first round.

We won't know for sure until after the season which baby Wildcats declare for 2013, but it's a good bet that at least Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin are NBA-bound.

But really, it's no problem who checks out because three top-10 high-school seniors, Andrew Harrison, his twin Aaron Harrison, and James Young already committed to Kentucky.

I know it's easy to look at Coach Cal with suspicious eyes, especially those who remember some of his shenanigans while he was building the University of Massachusetts into the class of the Atlantic 10.

Still, the hard fact is that Calipari is doing the same thing any other coach in the country would do if given the opportunity.

Calipari has just dropped the charade that many elite-level college coaches put on about education and character-building being just as important as the basketball at their institutions.

"Somebody told me that they're going to start calling it the blue [as in Kentucky] room instead of the green room," Calipari told reporters after the 2012 NBA draft.

Calipari always has disputed the innuendos that he's only about the basketball part of his players.

He said the ESPN show "Kentucky: All Access" isn't about increasing the program's profile, as if it needed it.

The story Calipari is sticking to is that the reality show is allowing the public to see his players as the hard-working athletes they are, committed to going to class and practice.

"I'm not embarrassed about how we recruit, how we treat kids and how we coach them," he recently told ESPN.com. "I sleep really good at night, because I know we do things right."

It's hard to point out what exactly Calipari and UK are doing wrong.

They don't force top recruits to come to Lexington, and they don't make them accept the millions of dollars NBA teams offer them after they play only one or two seasons.

It's just that instead of griping about the system, which a lot of college coaches, including him, dislike, Calipari has embraced a model that is applicable to the way things are.

"If you're following a 25-year-old model, you're behind," he has said. "You can't do that anymore."

Perhaps more than any college coach in America, Calipari has a grasp of the "all about me" generation of players now being recruited.

He knows most of the elite of the elite are in college for only one season because the NBA collective-bargaining agreement says they can't enter the draft until a year after their high school class graduates.

The best players come to him because he has had 11 freshmen drafted in the first round since 2008, including three No. 1 overall - Davis, John Wall in 2010 and Derrick Rose (of the University of Memphis in 2008).

It's not relevant whether people like it. The fact is that in the last three NBA drafts, 13 freshmen have been lottery picks, compared with only one senior - Jimmer Fredette, of Brigham Young.

Calipari coached seven of those freshmen.

There also is no denying that Calipari has helped his freshmen make the most of their one season at Kentucky. In his three seasons at Kentucky, Calipari has won 102 games - more than any other college coach - gone to two Final Fours and won his first NCAA championship.

If you eliminate all the outside stuff, Calipari might be the best coach in college basketball.

It is extremely hard to maintain the level of success he has had a Kentucky relying on a revolving door of freshmen.

Most programs are set back when one star freshman leaves. Kentucky loses at least two every season, but Calipari keeps on rolling.

After losing six players to the NBA draft (including one senior), the Wildcats entered the 2012-13 ranked third behind Indiana and Louisville in the Associated Press poll.

"Every year, I've had kids leave and everyone says the program is going to crumble," Calipari recently said, "but we've gotten better each time."

One-and-done is how college basketball is now played. Calipari plays it better than anybody.