The resurgence of Harvard University’s college basketball program has been nothing short of a revelation. Many opinions as to what led to this rejuvenation at Harvard have been posited, but not nearly enough credit has been given to Yanni Hufnagel. Yanni Hufnagel is the current assistant basketball coach for the Nevada Wolfpack under head coach Eric Musselman. He has also served as the assistant basketball coach at Harvard and at the University of California. He is known around college basketball to be one of the best recruiters, hauling in five start recruits on multiple occasions for non college basketball powerhouses. He seems poised to be a head coach somewhere soon at a young age in his thirties. Hufnagel was also at Harvard during the time Jeremy Lin led Harvard to the Ivy League championship.
Jewish boys from Scarsdale don’t often get involved in the sports arena, but for Yanni Hufnagel things were different. Yanni Hufnagel called games in high school for his local town’s public-access television station. In college at Cornell, he was also a manager for the basketball team and interned for the Nets of the NBA. His first job in the college ranks was as a graduate assistant for Oklahoma under Coach Jeff Capel. During that time he helped NBA superstar Blake Griffin refine his game and go on to be the top draft pick in the NBA draft. In 2009 famed Harvard basketball coach Tommy Amaker hired him away as a volunteer assistant coach. Yanni’s most important responsibilities are recruiting where you have to be a great salesman, selling the player on the school.
Yanni Hufnagel is the son of Jewish German immigrants who were big sports fans themselves. Hufnagel has also coached Maccabee USA’s youth team during the Maccabiah Games. Yanni is connected to many Jewish communities around the country including Boston.