|Louisville's Keatts Joining Seahawks|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – University of Louisville Associate Head Coach Kevin Keatts will become the 10th men’s basketball coach in UNCW history when the Cardinals conclude their season, UNCW Director of Athletics Jimmy Bass announced early Thursday.
Keatts, who is completing his third season with Coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals, is an ideal fit for the Seahawks and will be formally introduced later, according to Bass.
“Kevin Keatts is one of the top young basketball coaches in the country and we welcome him to the Seahawk family,” said Bass. “We’re very excited about what lies ahead for our program. Kevin is a bright star in the profession and he’s had the opportunity to work with one of the most successful coaches ever in Rick Pitino. We’re looking forward to having him on campus and working hard to bring our program back to the forefront of college basketball.”
Keatts, 41, joined the Cardinals after heading up the program at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. He led Hargrave to a pair of national prep championships and three runner-up finishes during his time at the prep school.
"Coach Keatts will be a dynamic addition to the Seahawk family," said UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller. "It's an honor to bring Coach Keatts aboard given his experience, reputation and approach. We are eager to introduce him to the Wilmington community and I'm confident that he will receive a warm welcome from fans and supporters of our program.”
Keatts came to Louisville as an assistant coach in April of 2011 and was elevated to associate head coach this past January.
“My family and I are extremely excited and feel blessed to have the opportunity to join the Seahawk family,” said Keatts. “I am looking forward to helping restore the men’s basketball program and get it back where it needs to be in order to be successful. I can’t wait to get on campus to begin working with the current players and help them reach their potential. I will bring an up-tempo style of play to UNCW that players will want to play in, fans will want to watch, and media will want to cover.”
The engaging Keatts is known for his recruiting expertise. He helped the Cardinals compile two straight top-10 recruiting classes en route to a pair of Big East Conference championships and NCAA Final Four appearances in 2012 and 2013. Last season, the Cardinals won a school-record 35 games and captured the NCAA title.
This season, the Cardinals, the 2013 national champions, have picked up where they left off, streaking to seven straight wins en route to a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen. UofL meets No. 8-seeded Kentucky on Friday, March 28, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Keatts is no secret to those in the basketball world. After surveying more than 200 collegiate coaches, He was named the third most respected/feared assistant coach in July of 2013 by ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman.
“Kevin has been one of the best assistant coaches with which I have had the good fortune to work, and I’ve had a lot of them,” said Pitino, who has 12 of his former assistant coaches as current collegiate head coaches, including five who had their teams in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. “He is a terrific person, coach, scout, family man and recruiter. He possesses all of the variables to build a successful program. We are really going to miss his upbeat personality that provided sunshine to each of us daily. We will thoroughly miss him in our program and thank him for his efforts in helping us reach two Final Fours, win three straight conference championships and a national title.”
Prior to arriving at Louisville, Keatts served as the head coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. In 10 seasons with two separate stints at Hargrave (1999-2001, 2003-2011), he compiled an impressive 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 Keatts’ 10 seasons and 18 others played on the NCAA Division II level. Current UofL senior Luke Hancock – the Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 NCAA Final Four – played at Hargrave under Keatts.
Keatts 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 under former head coach Greg White and assisted with the program at Southwestern Michigan in Dowagiac, Mich., during the 1996-97 campaign.
Keatts 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 at Ferrum (Va.) College.
Keatts is one of 11 former Pitino aides now working as active NCAA Division I head coaches. The others include Mike Cronin (Cincinnati), Billy Donovan (Florida), Steve Masiello (Manhattan), Marvin Menzies (New Mexico State), Richard Pitino (Minnesota), Kareem Richardson (Missouri-Kansas City), Herb Sendek (Arizona State), Reggie Theus (Cal State Northridge), Kevin Willard (Seton Hall) and Tubby Smith (Texas Tech). Overall, Pitino has had 27 former assistants become head coaches through the years.
Keatts takes over after the termination of Buzz Peterson on March 11 and follows in the footsteps of Bill Brooks (1952-72), Mel Gibson (1973-86), Robert McPherson (1987-90), Kevin Eastman (1991-94), Jerry Wainwright (1995-2002), Brad Brownell (2003-06), Benny Moss (2007-10), Brooks Lee (2010-interim) and Peterson (2011-14).
Keatts and his wife, Georgette, have two sons, Kevin and Kaden.