Marc Wanaka, a longtime assistant on Jay Johnson's staffs, will join him at LSU as the volunteer hitting coach, Johnson confirmed Thursday morning. The agreement is pending a background check.
Johnson and Wanaka have known each other for about 25 years and worked together the past eight at Nevada and then Arizona, where they became known for their prolific offenses.
Johnson wanted to keep Wanaka on his staff after he took the job at LSU last month. They will coach the hitters together.
"There is a very synergistic mindset and approach to what we are doing," Johnson said. "There will never be a confusing element to our players about the expectation of what a quality at-bat is or what we're trying to do relative to a hitter's count, a two-strike count, runners in scoring position, mechanical blueprint. All of those things will be really, really well put in place so it puts the player in the best position to be successful."
LSU's new baseball coach shared his thoughts on retaining three upperclassmen during the draft, losing six players and what comes next for the program now that the MLB Draft has ended.
Wanaka succeeded former volunteer hitting coach Eddie Smith, who left LSU at the end of the season to become the head coach at Utah Valley. Technically considered a volunteer, Wanaka won't have a contract with LSU. He will get paid through summer camps. D1Baseball first reported the news.
With Wanaka onboard, Johnson filled the last major opening on his coaching staff. Last week, LSU hired former Arizona State assistant Jason Kelly as its pitching coach and pulled Dan Fitzgerald away from Dallas Baptist as its recruiting coordinator, filling the two slots for paid assistants given to college baseball programs.
Wanaka and Johnson first met when they played together at Shasta Community College in the mid-1990s. Later, they were both assistants at Point Loma Nazarene in 2003. Wanaka then coached pitchers for a decade at a trio of western community colleges before he reunited with Johnson as Nevada’s volunteer assistant in 2014.
Over the next eight seasons — two at Nevada and six at Arizona — Johnson and Wanaka developed some of the top offenses in the country. Arizona never posted a batting average lower than .285 during their tenure.