UNC Wilmington had three of its most successful basketball seasons ever under the direction of Kevin Keatts, including two straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
So when it came time for the Seahawks to find a new coach, it went back to Keatts to fill the opening created when C.B. McGrath was fired on Jan. 13 in the midst of an 11-game losing streak.
Since it couldn’t have Keatts himself — he’s currently employed by NC State — UNCW settled for his top assistant. Takayo Siddle, who worked on the Seahawks’ staff during those three seasons between 2014-17, was hired as the school’s 13th head coach on Friday.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Takayo back to UNCW and the Wilmington community,” UNCW athletic director Jimmy Bass said. “He’s been successful everywhere he’s been, and we’re confident he will get our program back to the level our student-athletes, alumni, fans and community are accustomed to. He already has two CAA Tournament championship rings, so there’s plenty of room for more.”
Siddle, 33, has followed Keatts from Hargrave Military Academy to UNCW to State, with a stop at his alma mater Gardner-Webb in between. In addition to his work on the sideline and at practice, he earned recognition as the nation’s No. 4 recruiter earlier this season after helping to put together a top-10 class for the Wolfpack.
While with the Seahawks, he recruited five All-Colonial Athletic Association selections — including current State star C.J. Bryce — while helping the team to a 72-28 record with three straight conference regular season championships and two postseason tournament titles.
A native of Eden, N.C., Siddle was the starting point guard on the Gardner-Webb team that upset Kentucky at Rupp Arena in 2007.
This is his first college head coaching assignment, although he briefly served as interim coach after Keatts left for Raleigh.
“I’m honored to be named as the head coach of this proud program,” Siddle said. “This is and has always been a dream job for me. I can’t begin to tell everyone how excited I am.”