RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina State has hired Kevin Keatts to lead its men’s basketball program, director of athletics Debbie Yow announced on Friday.
Keatts comes to NC State after three seasons as head coach of UNC Wilmington. With the Seahawks, Keatts complied a record of 72-28 (.720) and a 41-13 (.759) mark in Colonial Athletic Association play. UNCW qualified for each of the past two NCAA tournaments.
“When we set out to hire our next men’s basketball coach, we wanted to identify someone with the pedigree, vision and plan to serve as the architect of NC State basketball,” said Yow. “Kevin quickly emerged as the perfect fit in each of these areas. His history of success in building programs, of competing at a championship-level in every stop of his career, his commitment to player development and priority in academics make him a tremendous hire for us. We welcome Kevin, his wife Georgette, and two sons K.J. and Kaden to the Wolfpack family.”
Prior to his time in Wilmington, he was a member of Rick Pitino’s staff at Louisville, helping the Cardinals to a pair of Final Fours, a Sweet 16 and the 2013 NCAA title.
“I have an incredible respect for the history and tradition of NC State University, and am honored by the opportunity to lead the Wolfpack,” Keatts said. “There is an unbelievable commitment to basketball in Raleigh, and I share a vision with Debbie Yow and Chancellor Randy Woodson on what NC State can achieve.
— NC State Men’s Bball (@PackMensBball) March 18, 2017
“From incredible fan support to high-level academics, first-class facilities and the ability to recruit at the highest level, everything is in place at NC State to build an elite program. My family and I are honored to become a part of Wolfpack Nation, and I look forward to adding to its storied history.”
“We welcome Kevin and his family to the NC State community,” said NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson. “We’re confident he has the character, leadership and vision to lead our men’s basketball program to great heights.”
Keatts led the Seahawks to postseason play all three years he was at UNC-Wilmington after taking over a program without a postseason berth in the previous eight seasons. The Seahawks went to the CIT in 2015 before making back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2016 and 2017. The 2016 NCAA tournament appearance was the school’s first since the 2005-06 campaign.
A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, he guided the Seahawks to CAA regular season titles all three years in Wilmington and was named CAA Coach of the Year in 2015 and 2016. He was the first coach in conference history to earn Coach of the Year accolades in back-to-back seasons.
The 2016-17 UNC-Wilmington team won a school-record 29 games as the team led the conference and ranked 10th in the nation in scoring heading into the NCAA Tournament, averaging 85.2 points per game.
In 2015-16, the Seahawks were tabbed to finish sixth in the CAA prior to the season, but UNCW tied the then school-record with 25 wins as Keatts piloted the team to its first CAA tournament title since 2006.
Keatts took over a program that finished last in the CAA in 2013-14 and led them to a a share of the regular season title for its sixth regular season conference championship in 2014-15.
He came to UNC-Wilmington after three seasons as an assistant coach on Pitino’s staff at Louisville and was elevated to associate head coach in January of 2014.
You’re the best Seahawk Nation. We couldn’t have done it without you. pic.twitter.com/rKAiKOpxcw
— UNCW Basketball (@uncwmenshoops) March 17, 2017
While on staff at Louisville, Keatts and the Cardinals went 96-21 (.821), including the national championship in 2013 as Louisville won a school-record 35 games.
Keatts helped the Cardinals compile a pair of Big East Conference championships and NCAA Final Four appearances in 2012 and 2013.
In July 2013, after surveying more than 200 collegiate coaches, ESPN.com named him the third most respected/feared assistant coach in the nation.
Prior to arriving at Louisville, Keatts served as the head coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia. In 10 seasons with two separate stints at Hargrave (1999-2001, 2003-2011), he compiled a 263-17 record with two national prep championships (2004, 2008), three runner-up finishes (2005, 2006, 2009) and two other appearances among the final four prep teams (2007, 2010).
Keatts, who was inducted into Hargrave’s Hall of Fame in 2011, won his second national prep title in 2008 with an unblemished 29-0 record – the school’s first undefeated season. His teams lost one or fewer games six times.
Hargrave produced 103 players who signed NCAA Division I men’s basketball scholarships during his 10 seasons and 18 others played on the NCAA Division II level.
He has coached nine players at the prep level who have reached the NBA, including Joe Alexander, Jordan Crawford, Josh Howard, Vernon Macklin, Mike Scott, Marreese Speights, Sam Young, David West and Korleone Young.
Keatts has also had stops as an assistant coach at Marshall and Southwestern Michigan College. He worked for two seasons at Marshall from 2001-03 and assisted with the program at Southwestern Michigan in Dowagiac, Mich., during the 1996-97 campaign.
He was a two-sport standout in football and basketball at Heritage High School in Lynchburg, Va., and went on to play four seasons of basketball as a point guard at Ferrum (Va.) College. He later earned his Bachelor’s Degree while at Marshall.
Keatts and his wife Georgette, have two sons, K.J. and Kaden.