ANALYSIS: DJ Whittemore says coaching Nevada baseball is his dream job
It’s been no secret D.J. Whittemore’s dream job is at the University of Nevada and the Western Nevada College baseball coach again made it clear on Monday he would like to take over the Wolf Pack program.
With the departure of Jay Johnson to take over as head coach at Arizona, the Nevada baseball job again has a vacancy. Whittemore briefly talked to the Appeal on Monday and when asked if he was interested in the Nevada job, he texted this message:
“Yes, Nevada is my dream job since I met coach Powers when I was 15 1/2 years old at Peccole Park. I have loved and supported that university since I was 4 years old.”
Whittemore was referring to Gary Powers, the longtime Nevada baseball coach who built the foundation for the Wolf Pack baseball program. Johnson took over for Powers when Powers retired after the 2013 season.
At WNC, Whittemore has built a successful program, serving as the school’s coach since its first season in 2006. Whittemore’s career record at WNC is 417-188 for a 70 percent winning percentage and he has posted a 315-114 record in the Scenic West Athletic Conference. Whittemore has averaged more than 41 wins a season over the last 10 years at WNC. His teams have appeared in the JUCO World Series three times (2007, 2009, 2012) with a third place finish in 2009.
He also won regional titles in 2014, 2013, 2009 and 2007, district titles in 2012, 2009 and 2007 and conference titles in 2011, 2009 and 2006. He has been named as the Western District regional Coach of the Year five times (2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007).
Whittemore has coached 31 players in nine seasons who have been drafted by Major League teams, with 21 of those signing with Big League clubs. WNC has had 16 players drafted in the last five years, 13 of whom have signed. Whittemore has coached about 75 players who have signed with Division I schools, including five this year: Max Karnos and Kody Reynolds, Sacramento State; Jake Bennett and Connor Zwetsch, Oregon; and Corey Pool, Nevada. He has coached more than 100 players who have gone onto the four-year level.
Academics shouldn’t be an issue with Whittemore as far as the Nevada job is concerned. In 19 of 20 semesters, WNC’s baseball teams have posted a cumulative grade point average above 3.0, earning National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association academic All-American honors nine of the past 10 season. Whittemore’s program has a 95 percent graduation rate with 75 of 79 second year players earned an associates degree.
Another strength Whittemore should bring to Nevada is recruiting. With virtually no recruiting budget, Whittemore recruits up to 20 players a year at WNC and has recruited players from all over the Western United States and Canada. He would have a small recruiting budget and much more resources at Nevada while recruiting about 8 to 12 players a year to the school.
One advantage Whittemore should have as a possible candidate is he wouldn’t use Nevada as a stepping stone and would most likely be at the school for the long haul since it is his “dream job.” Johnson understandably did use Nevada as a stepping stone, moving onto Arizona after two seasons.
No matter who’s hired, Whittemore said the new coach would be coming into an outstanding situation based on the foundation Powers and Johnson have built. Johnson led Nevada to a 41-15 record this past season.
“The sky’s the limit for the program,” Whittemore said.