N.C. State to hire Kevin Keatts

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N.C. State has agreed to a deal with UNC Wilmington head coach Kevin Keatts to replace Mark Gottfried as the Wolfpack head coach, sources confirmed to NBC Sports.

Keatts, a former assistant with Louisville, as spent the past three seasons at UNCW, going 72-28 in those three seasons and winning at least a share of the CAA title all three years. Keatts reached two NCAA tournament, losing first round games by single-digits both years.

The news was first reported by ESPN.

This is an excellent hire by the Wolfpack, as Keatts was arguably the hottest mid-major name on the market. He’s an excellent recruiter and has proven himself as an in-game tactician, but he also can develop talent and work boosters. He should be able to find some success in Raleigh.

That said, the job that he takes over is never going to be easy. He’s at the third-best program in his neighborhood and may not be at a top half of the ACC job, but he’ll be coaching a program whose fan-base believes that they should be competing for conference titles and Final Fours the way that North Carolina and Duke are. There are expectations there, and those expectations aren’t going to be easy to fulfill.

That said, Wolfpack fans are never going to have to worry about whether or not their team will play hard, which was an issue for that program the last two years. I’m not ready to predict that Keatts will get N.C. State to the point that they are winning ACC titles — that conference is loaded — but getting that program back to respectability is the baseline for Keatts.