Blake Dean was named the University of New Orleans' seventh head coach in its 45 year history during the summer of 2015 following a breif stint as the school's interim head coach following the retirement of Ron Maestri.In his first season at the helm, UNO saw a 17-game turnaround, the eighth-best in Division I in 2016, while the team was one of 17 to increase their winning percentage by .200, boasting the fourth-highest improvement at .285.
The Privateers’ 31-26 record marked the first winning record for the baseball program since 2008 and qualified for the Southland Conference for the first time since joining the league prior to the 2013-14 academic year. The Privateers set eight-year highs in batting average (.300), total hits (600), doubles (77), on base percentage (.368) and fielding percentage (.966) saves (15), strikeouts (400) and the lowest opponent batting average in the span (.286).
Nationally, UNO finished eighth in triples per game with a 0.44 average and 10th in total triples with 25 while Dakota Dean cracked the top 25 individually with six on the season, the 22nd-most.
UNO’s resurrected offense led the Southland Conference in triples, while finishing second in in hits, batting average, third in RBI, fewest batters struck out (328) and fourth in slugging percentage (.416).
Under Dean’s guidance, five Privateers were named to All-Southland Conference Teams with Hezekiah Randolph, a first team honoree after finishing in the top 10 of the conference in runs scored (49), runs batted in (45), doubles (16) hits (71) and slugging percentage (.502), garnered America Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings South Central Region second team distinction. Kyle Bracey (first team), Dakota Dean (second team), Aaron Palmer (second team) and Daniel Martinez (honorable mention) all gained recognition from the league.
The Privateers took on the top Louisiana programs in the country during the 2016 campaign taking two from eventual NCAA Tournament participant Southeastern in their regular season series before dropping a decision to the Lions in the Southland Conference Tournament while splitting a two-game series with Tulane and besting Louisiana Tech, both qualifying for the national tournament.
Following two years working under the legendary Ron Maestri, Dean was initially tabbed the interim head coach before officially becoming the Privateers’ seventh head coach on June 30, 2015. Prior to assuming his current position, Dean worked his way up the ladder starting as a volunteer assistant in 2014 before being promoted to a full-time position the following year.
During his time on the Lakefront, Dean was instrumental in Samuel Capielano and Hezekiah Randolph claiming Freshman All-America status in 2014 while helping several Privateer hitters improve their production at the plate.
As the team’s hitting coach last season, the Privateers saw their average rise 20 points from the 2014 campaign and three of the five returning position players saw significant increases in their respective batting averages.
Highlights on the diamond, however, are nothing new for Dean as the native of Crestview, Florida, has experienced success at every stop of his baseball career to date.
As a prepster at Crestview High, Dean was a four-year all-state honoree and was a member of the USA Baseball Youth National Team. Following his senior season, he claimed Louisville Slugger All-America recognition and was named to Baseball America’s Top 300 High School Players of 2006.
From there, he packed his bags for Baton Rouge where he helped LSU post a combined 175 wins, three trips to the NCAA Super Regionals and a pair of berths in the College World Series – including a National Championship in 2009.
As they had done during his high school career, honors came in by the handful for Dean in college. As a rookie, he was named Freshman All-SEC, Louisiana Freshman of the Year and Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American.
One year later, Dean was tabbed first-team All-American by Baseball America, second-team All-South Region by the American Baseball Coaches Assocation and Louisiana Hitter of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. He also claimed SEC Tournament MVP and Baton Rouge Regional Most Outstanding Player recognition during the Tigers’ march to Omaha.
Dean claimed first-team all-state honors in each of his final three collegiate seasons, was tabbed first-team All-SEC as a junior and was a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in 2010.
Along the way, he finished second in school history in hits (332), RBI (260) and total bases (575), fourth in home runs (56) and fifth in runs scored (223).
Dean was drafted twice during his time at LSU, going in the 10th round to the Minnesota Twins in 2009 and in the eighth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010.
He played two seasons professionally in the Dodgers’ organization, suiting up in Rookie League for the Ogden Raptors in 2010 and the Class A Great Lakes Loons in 2011 before returning to LSU to finish his degree.
Dean completed his bachelor’s degree in sports administration from LSU in 2013.