What’s a nice jewish boy doing as an assistant coach in college basketball? The answer is “making a name for himself.” Despite never playing basketball at the varsity high school or college levels, Yanni Hufnagel is creating an impressive resume in the college basketball ranks through hard work and his love of the game.
Born and raised in Scarsdale, New York, Yanni Hufnagel learned by high school that he didn’t have the basketball talent to compete at the highest levels. After getting cut from the high school varsity team, he set his sights on coaching through his education. He attended Penn University for one-year, then transferred to Cornell where he graduated with a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations.
After graduation, Yanni Hufnagel did a coaching internship with the New Jersey Nets before attending graduate school at Oklahoma University where he got the opportunity to serve as a graduate assistant to the basketball coach. He also earned his Master’s in Adult and Higher Education with an Emphasis in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration.
In June of 2009, he was hired to serve as an assistant coach at Harvard under the direction of former All American Duke point guard Tommy Amaker. At Harvard, he gained a solid reputation as one of the nation’s top recruiters. Despite the inherent difficulties of recruiting for an academic school like Harvard, Yanni Hufnagel was able to locate enough talent to help make the school competitive at the highest levels.
In 2013, Hufnagel was hired as assistant coach at Vanderbilt. While only there for one-year, he was credited with recruiting key future players like Wade Baldwin IV and Matthew Fisher-Davis, who became key components in the 29th best recruiting class of 2014.
The following year, Hufnagel moved on to a similar job with the Pac 12’s California Bears. After successfully recruiting major players like Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, the Bears found themselves in the middle of the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament.
As he inches closer to a head coaching job in his early 30s, Yanni Hufnagel now works as an assistant coach to Eric Musselman and the University of Nevada Wolf Pack. It only seems a matter of time before he gets the call; the only question is where he will land.
Find Yanni on Facebook to learn more.