Yanni know best

How did a “nice Jewish boy” go from being cut from his high school basketball team to being one of the best assistant basketball coaches in the country with the reputation of being a great recruiter? The answer is determination, enthusiasm, and drive all of which describes Yanni Hufnagel.


Hufnagel was born in Scarsdale, New York, where he failed to make the high school team, but that did not keep him from basketball. He became a color commentator for the team on the local public access television station, and people noticed the great analytical skills, even at that age. From there, Hufnagel went on to Penn State for one year, but then transferred to Cornell, where he served as basketball manager for one year and graduated with a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. His future career began to take shape, however, when he interned with the New Jersey Nets. That internship landed him a recommendation from Ryan Krueger to Krueger’s former boss, Jeff Capel, Oklahoma’s basketball coach. It was during his time at Oklahoma, that Hufnagel proved what a hard worker he was and willing to do whatever was needed for the players, including the future No. 1 NBA draft pick, Blake Griffin.


Soon Harvard was looking for an assistant coach, and Capel recommended Hufnagel for the job. During his time at Harvard, Hufnagel was voted in a CBS survey as the assistant coach most likely to “make it big time due to his recruiting ability” in the mid-major college level. Following Harvard, Hufnagel served as assistant basketball coach at Vanderbilt University, University of California, Berkeley, and currently at the University of Nevada, Reno. At each school, Hufnagel has proven that he knows who to recruit, including the likes of Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb.

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