Most people would generalize that a young Jewish boy that grew up in Scarsdale, New York, would grow up and move to a big city to become a doctor, lawyer or banker. But that’s not where Yanni Hufnagel’s life has taken him. Sure, he ended up living in Boston and working for Harvard, but in a much different capacity than you might expect.
Yanni Hufnagel is one of the most exciting basketball coaches in high-level college sports today. That’s saying a lot once you realize that a young Yanni Hufnagel was cut from his varsity basketball team in Scarsdale. But that setback didn’t keep him from the game. He simply became the high school team’s announcer. Seeing the game from afar really got him thinking about basketball strategy.
Yanni Hufnagel was an athlete, but he just couldn’t play his favorite game. He quit his best sport, lacrosse, after one college season. While attending Cornell University, he got an internship with the New Jersey Nets washing uniforms. It was his introduction to the fact that you have to pay your dues in basketball.
He went on to coaching after graduation in Oklahoma. But his big break came when he took an unpaid assistant coaching job with Harvard. He helped guide the Crimson Tide to its first ivy league championship. He did this through recruiting. In fact, he was so good at recruiting that CBS Sports named him best in the country.
He took his recruiting chops to the University of California at Berkley where he put together one of the country’s top five recruiting classes. He’s since moved on to an assistant position at the University of Nevada, Reno where he continues to recruit. We are all waiting for his big break where he can take over his own D1 program.