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Why did NC State pick Kevin Keatts over Will Wade? Recruiting.

Crootin’ above all—never a bad approach to looking for a coach.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Orlando Practice Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Debbie Yow has been clear about her approach to hiring coaches: she looks for coaches who have done more with less, and for coaches who have a reputation for recruiting well. In general, this has paid off well for the athletics department.

Kevin Keatts checks both those boxes, and his time at Louisville as an assistant was probably the reason he landed the NC State job ahead of VCU’s Will Wade. Wade has a solid resume, but has never worked as an assistant at the high-major level, which adds another layer of uncertainty to his prospects.

Wade has brought in good talent at VCU—even top-100 players—but he doesn’t share the same connections that Keatts has.

Keatts has had demonstrable influence in recruiting for Louisville thanks to, among other things, his connection to Hargrave Military Academy. While with the Cardinals, he helped Rick Pitino land Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier, and Luke Hancock.

This article by Nick Coffey of The Cardinal Connect is a good summary of Keatts’ efforts at Louisville:

Not only did Keatts bring Harrell and Hancock to Louisville, but he also played a huge role in the recruitment of Louisville’s previous three recruiting classes. When Terry Rozier failed to qualify academically in 2012, Keatts was already at Louisville, but obviously still had a strong connection at Hargrave Military Academy, which is exactly where Rozier wound up for his post-grad season.

Keatts is meticulous on the recruiting trail, and this piece from ESPN’s C.L. Brown will give you a lot of insight into his approach.

Kevin Keatts can recruit at a high level in Raleigh; the important distinction here is that while Mark Gottfried brought in highly-ranked talent, maybe it wasn’t always the best fit for the team. Keatts can and probably will improve on that, which is one reason why he has a high ceiling here.