Kevin Keatts (center) gave Russ Smith a hug after Louisville's win in last year's regional final. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
UNC-Wilmington has hired Kevin Keatts to be its next men's basketball coach, the school announced on Thursday.
The Louisville assistant will remain with the Cardinals for the duration of their season. They play Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
Keatts is in his third season with Louisville after nine seasons at Hargrave Military Academy, a boarding school in Virginia, and three as an assistant at Marshall.
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“Kevin Keatts is one of the top young basketball coaches in the country and we welcome him to the Seahawk family,” UNCW athletics director Jimmy Bass said. “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, takes over for Buzz Peterson, who was fired two weeks ago after the Seahawks finished 9-23 and 3-13 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
“My family and I are extremely excited and feel blessed to have the opportunity to join the Seahawk family,” Keatts said. “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.”
UNCW's only four NCAA tournament appearances have come since 2000, but the last was in 2006.