Random notes for Thursday:
▪ Just in time for the new early national letter-of-intent day for college football, The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, La., researched how many Power Five conference players each state has produced over the past decade.
Of the 50 states, Kentucky ranked 29th, with 106 players at Power Five conference schools. Trinity High School in Louisville produced the most players, with 10.
Texas was the No. 1 state with 2,038. Florida was second at 1,874, followed by California at 1,641, Georgia at 1,240 and then Ohio at 699. Since Youngstown native Mark Stoops became the UK coach in 2013, many of the Cats’ current players have come out of Ohio.
▪ After the debacle at the end of the Steelers-Patriots game, the NFL has to come up with a clear, definitive definition of a catch in which everyone can agree a catch is a catch. By my standards, Steelers tight end Jesse James’ ruled non-catch was indeed a catch.
▪ Ran into a friend last week who said he was giving up his UK football season tickets. One big reason: Games are too long. Too many injury timeouts. Too many replay reviews.
▪ What, no Stephen Curry for Christmas? Golden State’s golden guard won’t be on the court when the Warriors play the Cavaliers in an NBA Finals rematch on Christmas Day. The Grinch may or may not have had something to do with Curry’s sprained ankle.
▪ Over his past four games, Hamidou Diallo is averaging 20.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. In his last two games, the redshirt freshman has made five of nine three-point shots. Not bad for a player who was not supposed to be able to shoot.
▪ Big congrats to Randy Sanders, a former Kentucky assistant who was named head coach at East Tennessee State. Under Rich Brooks, Sanders played a huge role in developing Andre Woodson and Mike Hartline. The former Tennessee Volunteer spent the past five seasons on Jimbo Fisher’s staff at Florida State.
▪ Oklahoma freshman star Trae Young tied the NCAA single-game record with 22 assists on Tuesday. Some context: Kentucky has had 22 or more assists in just one of its 10 games this season. And UK is 9-1. And is ranked No. 7 in the AP poll.
▪ After sitting out 2016-17, Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee is averaging 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds, both career highs, as a senior at California. Lee is averaging 26.9 minutes a game. As a junior at Kentucky in 2015-16, he averaged 21.8 minutes a game.
▪ If coaching really doesn’t make a difference in professional sports, how do you explain the Rams’ Sean McVay? He’s just 31 years old, by the way. The team has gone from 4-12 last season to 10-4 this year.
▪ Sorry to see Zack Cozart go, but I understand why the Reds let the 32-year-old shortstop sign with the Angels for $38 million over three years. Next question will be what happens with Eugenio Suarez when 2016 No. 1 draft pick Nick Senzel makes his way to the majors in 2018.
▪ What about ex-Cincinnati and current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly as the Bengals’ coach in 2018?
▪ When UCLA played Cincinnati last week, the Bruins featured LiAngelo Ball’s image on the game tickets. That’s the same LiAngelo Ball who was suspended from the team after allegedly shoplifting in China and has now withdrawn from school and has signed professionally to play in Lithuania. He has a famous father whose name escapes me. Oops.
▪ Michael Porter Jr. has been taking warm-up shots before Missouri games. Considered the top freshman for 2017-18, Porter is supposed to be out for the season after undergoing back surgery. He hasn’t been seen jumping, but he has been seen shooting. Just saying.
▪ I want to welcome all my friends who are Green Bay Packers fans — there seem to be a lot around here — to a postseason without playoffs, the franchise’s first since 2008. As a Browns fan, I know it well.