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NC State’s Yow meets with coaching candidate Keatts

Intent on avoiding the problems from the last coaching search, N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow is moving quickly to find a new basketball coach.

Yow and UNC-Wilmington coach Kevin Keatts met on Friday to discuss the Wolfpack opening.

Keatts, 44, has led UNC-Wilmington to the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons and a 72-28 three-year record. The Seahawks had suffered through six straight losing seasons before Keatts was hired in 2014.

Yow hired Mark Gottfried after a protracted search in 2011 and has been intent on making this one more efficient. Yow decided to fire Gottfried on Feb. 16, after the Wolfpack went 9-27 in the ACC the past two seasons.

Yow has targeted Keatts and Virginia Commonwealth coach Will Wade as her top two candidates. Both coaches lost in the NCAA tournament on Thursday.

UNCW has won the Colonial Athletic Association title the past two years and has at least tied for the regular-season crown in each of Keatts’ three seasons.

Keatts, who is from Lynchburg, Va., was the primary recruiter for Louisville’s 2013 national championship team and worked for coach Rick Pitino for three seasons.

A former point guard for Ferrum College in the early 1990s, Keatts made his name as the head coach at Hargrave Military Academy, a prep school in Chatham, Va., where he won 263 games in 10 seasons.

UNCW lost to Virginia in the NCAA tournament on Thursday afternoon in Orlando, Fla. Keatts made about $500,000 with UNCW this season. Gottfried’s annual compensation was worth $2.5 million.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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