Former Arizona coach Jay Johnson has struck again, taking one of the most underappreciated college baseball coaches in America with him to LSU.
Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball is reporting that LSU is hiring Marc Wanaka as its volunteer assistant, the same role he held with the Wildcats from 2016-21 on Johnson’s UA staff. Known by players and coaches as “Chief,” Wanaka was also with Johnson at Nevada from 2014-15.
Wanaka specialized in working with Arizona’s position players, specifically on their hitting, and in the final two full seasons the Wildcats were arguably the top offense in the country. The 2021 squad, in addition to making the College World Series, led the nation in hits, runs, doubles and triples and was in the top five in batting average and on-base percentage.
How beloved was Wanaka by the players? This past season a video of him doing a belly flop into a pool at the Frisco Classic in Texas was played on the video board at Hi Corbett Field several times, either after completing a series sweep or advancing in the postseason.
His departure to LSU brings the number to four—so far—of players and coaches that have left Arizona for Baton Rouge. In addition to Johnson and Wanaka, the Tigers have plucked freshman designated hitter Jacob Berry and 2022 commit Mikey Romero from the Wildcats.
Tucson-area prospect commits for 2022 class
While Arizona has seen at least three of its 2022 commitments back out since Johnson left for LSU, on Wednesday it added one to the group.
Mason White, a left-handed hitting middle infielder from Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic High School, committed to the Wildcats. He hit .354 with four home runs and 31 RBI as a junior for the Lancers reach the Class 4A state championship game.
Mason White (‘22, Tucson, AZ) lines a ball hard to RF for a double. Lean frame w/ room to add. Barrel lags through the zone. Natural loft within. Produces solid power for size. Has shown quality glove at SS @troskybaseball #WUBC pic.twitter.com/fMnp41bHuQ— Perfect Game California (@California_PG) July 2, 2021