"I think Coach Pitino did pretty good," said Scout com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels "Jones and Keatts are well-connected in the AAU and high school communities and are proven to be able to get things done and recruit players."
Jones, a former Nike team manager, oversaw 45 AAU teams for the shoe giant before taking an assistants job in the Mountain West Conference. Those ties proved helpful while he worked for Steve Alford at New Mexico and were a major reason he was near the top of Pitino's list when Fuller left to join Frank Haith at Missouri.
"He used to be at Pepperdine and then was in charge of the Nike travel teams before having success at New Mexico," Daniels said. "It was his job to oversee all of the AAU programs, so he dealt with AAU coaches and he has strong relationships there. He obviously has a lot of connections within the Nike circuit."
Keatts, whom Daniels termed a "wild-card" hire, spent ten years as the head coach at Hargrave Academy in Chatham, Virginia. During his time at Hargrave, Keatts recruited 103 players who signed Division 1 scholarships, including five players currently on NBA rosters. Keatts won two national titles and went 262-17 at Hargrave.
"Kevin Keatts basically had to recruit a new team in prep school every single year," Daniels said "He always had one of the top prep school programs in the country. He's had a number of NBA guys. He has a lot of connections in the basketball community because he's dealt with so many high school and AAU coaches over the years."
Though Keatts' experience coaching at the Division 1 level is limited – he spent two years as an assistant at Marshall – Daniels believes he'll be a successful coach and recruiter for Pitino.
"I think he's going to be able to get some things done at the next level," Daniels said. "It's kind of a wild-card hire, but he has a chance to be a pretty successful basketball coach and recruiter."
Though Keatts and Jones are best known for their connections in the mid-Atlantic and the west coast, respectively, Pitino's new staff is expected to take a national approach on the recruiting trail. Jones' Nike experience ties him in throughout the country, and Richard Pitino successfully recruited players from the Midwest (Bradley Beal), deep south (Rakeem Buckles) and west coast (Peyton Siva) during prior stops at Louisville and Florida. Keatts recruited players up and down the eastern seaboard at Hargrave.
"Rick Pitino isn't focused on recruiting one specific area," Daniels said. "At Louisville, you have to recruit nationally and I think that's what he's going to get with the three guys on staff now. The thing about this staff, it's not just one or two guys that can recruit. All three guys can get the job done on the recruiting trail."
The big question for Louisville: Will Pitino's new assistants help solidify Rodney Purvis' commitment? Publicly, Purvis remains committed to the Cardinals, but his pledge has appeared on shaky ground since Fuller's departure from UofL.
"I don't think any of these hires guarantees that Rodney Purvis stays committed to Louisville," Daniels said. "I think that's a situation where we have to wait and see what Rodney [decides] Kevin Keatts has a relationship with the kid and the mom, but I don't think that guarantees anything."
Now, Pitino and his new assistants will hit the ground running in an attempt to make up lost ground with the Classes of 2012 and 2013. Before his departure, Fuller was in charge of Louisville's recruiting efforts. For the most part, the Cardinals are starting over with those two classes.
"I think [Pitino] did a pretty good job," Daniels said. "They got two guys that can recruit and that's what Coach Pitino wanted. He set out to find two guys capable of recruiting at a high level and I think he got two guys capable of doing that."