The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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32 ■ THE WOLFPACKER four-star prospect in Concord (N.C.) Robin- son senior point guard Lavar Batts Jr., who is ranked No. 101 in the class of 2017. Batts had signed with VCU in the fall, but opened up his recruitment after the Rams' coaching change. Landing more players who match Batts' profile should help him turn around last year's 15-17 record down the road. Rivals.com recruiting analyst Eric Bossi said Keatts' history at Hargrave and in the state of North Carolina should pay off on the recruiting trail at NC State. "No matter where he has been, he has done great as a recruiter," Bossi said. "He did it Hargrave, and I think he recruited pretty well as a young assistant coach at Marshall. He definitely was a big piece in building a national championship at Lou- isville. "I really think he's a great hire. He should have been the No. 1 guy on NC State's list when the job opened up." Bossi said, unlike some newly named college coaches, Keatts would not be lack- ing for name recognition. A lot of individu- als already know him or have followed his work. "The kids who played for him at Har- grave had a pretty good track record of be- ing successful after they left there," Bossi said. "They wouldn't have kept getting the kind of players he got if he wasn't doing something right." Bossi had thought that Keatts was on the fast track to becoming a college head coach once he took the Louisville job. "Keatts was long considered a rising star in the coaching industry," Bossi said. "I think what happened is that guys get hit with that label of just being a recruiter. That is code for 'I think this guy can talk to people but I don't think he can coach.' What he did in those three years at UNC Wilmington, and at Hargrave, he's proven he can coach." Bossi said Keatts' personality and reputa- tion as a players' coach might mask that he could also be demanding of his players and "not soft." "Kids want to know you care about them," Bossi said. "Once kids know you genuinely care about them, they want you to coach them hard. Keatts is a tremendous relationship-builder and can be demanding." The state of North Carolina has three re- cruits in the Rivals.com top 40 for the class of 2018, and two more uncommitted players ranked in the Rivals150. High Point Wes- leyan junior forward Jaylen Heard is ranked No. 30, Concord Cannon School reclassed junior forward Jairus Hamilton is one spot behind him and Charlotte Providence Day junior point guard Devon Dotson is No. 34. Wesleyan junior wing Aaron Wiggins checks in at No. 105 and Monroe Piedmont junior small forward Hunter Tyson lists at No. 144. The Wolfpack currently has five scholar- ships available for the class of 2018, though the roster won't be settled until later this spring. "I don't think he has to do anything spe- cial, just be himself," Bossi said. "It's going to be pretty easy to sell people there will be playing time. The approach will be: 'We need a core group of guys to rebuild NC State and make it an ACC contender again. We'd like to do it with local guys, and there is the talent to do that.'" Keatts said he wouldn't take a player just to take one this spring. He wants guys who will fit his system. Having a team identity will be a key part of the Keatts era, same with the motto of playing for the school's name on the front of the jersey and not the player's last name on the back. "I want guys that can play in our system, which is up-tempo and a lot of ball screens, and playing hard on the defensive end," Keatts said. "This is a great place to get a degree. Raleigh is an unbelievable city." It's also a far different place from his old office at Hargrave. ■ Rivals.com basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi noted that Keatts has always "done great as a recruiter." PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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