UNC Wilmington's Kevin Keatts emerging as front runner for NC State job

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

- Kevin Keatts has reached an agreement to become the next head men's basketball coach at NC State. He has earned CAA Coach of the Year honors with UNC Wilmington.

He led the Seahawks to the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons by twice winning the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season and conference titles. Before taking the job at UNC Wilmington, Keatts was an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville from 2011 to 2014.

Keatts, 44, has been the head coach at UNC Wilmington the past three seasons and helped rejuvenate the program with 72-28 record and back to back NCAA appearances.

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NC State and Keatts met Friday afternoon, a day after Keatts' team was eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Virginia. Things were going pretty well, even though Gottfried's teams didn't get any farther than the Sweet Sixteen. This year's team ranked 226th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, which is a remarkably disgusting spot for a team from the ACC. Unfortunately, leading scorer Dennis Smith Jr., a freshman, will likely bolt for the NBA Draft.

North Carolina State has found its next head basketball coach.

UNCW signed Keatts to a contract extension that would keep him with the Seahawks through the 2021 season.

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