Yanni Hufnagel: Assistant College Basketball Coach and Recruiting Superstar

Despite his love for the sport, Yanni Hufnagel never made it as a basketball star after being cut from the varsity team in high school. However, he has found his own version of superstardom as an assistant basketball coach for Oklahoma, Harvard, Vanderbilt, California, and now the University of Nevada.


Hufnagel went to school at Cornell, and spent one season there as a basketball manager, and earned an internship with the New Jersey Nets, with a variety of duties including laundry pickup. But that internship brought him to the attention of Nets colleague Ryan Krueger who connected him with his old boss Oklahoma Coach Jeff Capel, who was searching for a graduate assistant. After that job, it was all uphill as an assistant basketball coach, starting in Harvard.


He was at Harvard for four seasons. In that time, his thorough understanding of basketball and recruiting prowess led the Harvard Crimson to three consecutive Ivy League titles and produced Jeremy Lin, a top NBA draftee who now plays guard for the Brooklyn Nets. After Harvard, Hufnagel spent a season at Vanderbilt where he helped land a nationally ranked freshman class in 2014 and gained recognition for developing strong NBA talent. Hufnagel then moved to California for two seasons as an assistant coach, and brought his high energy recruiting style there before switching to the University of Nevada for the 2016-17 season.


Recruiting is perhaps the most important part of a college assistant basketball coach’s job. They have to know and understand exactly what the head coach is looking for, and navigate also the interests and wants of the players they are seeking to recruit. As a recruiter, Hufnagel is not afraid of hearing no. He will talk with any kid he wants on the team and share his vibrant personality.


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