Yanni Hufnagel had dreams of being a basketball player as a high school kid at Scarsdale, high school in New York. He never seemed to find his niche as a player, being cut from the varsity squad, but he never let that deter him from his love of the game.
Hufnagel would focus his college studies on learning how to build relationships with people and tutor basketball players. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, he accepted his first opportunity as an intern with the New Jersey Nets.
Yanni Hufnagel would get an early start on helping produce professional basketball quality talent. While working on a graduate degree at the University of Oklahoma, Hufnagel would spend extra time on the court helping an injured player return from a pair of knee injuries.
From 2008 to 2009 Hufnagel would help develop the mental approach to the game of basketball in a player who unbelievable athletic ability. Blake Griffin would forego his final two seasons as a Sooner and become the first player to benefit from the guidance of Yanni Hufnagel. Griffin would navigate his way to the National Basketball Association as the #1 overall pick in the draft, selected by LA Clippers.
Hufnagel’s first major college coaching opportunity came when accepted an assistant coaching opportunity at Harvard University under Tommy Amaker. Hufnagel arrived on campus in June 2009 and immediately began imparting his knowledge and love of basketball to the Crimson players.
As an assistant coach, Hufnagel is heavily involved in recruiting the best talent, and then perfecting those players’ basketball skills. Hufnagel’s ability to get the most out of a player began during his tenure at Harvard.
Hufnagel worked intently with Harvard guard Jeremy Lin, helping him earn Ivy League player of the week 4 times during the season. A player who, when recruited out of high school was said to have Division III talent, eventually found a spot on an NBA roster. The rest of that story is known as ‘Linsanity’ and Yanni Hufnagel played in a vital part in Lin’s development.
Hufnagel was establishing himself as one of the brightest young minds in college basketball. From Harvard, Hufnagel would gradually move westward across the country, first stopping at Vanderbilt University, where he helped the Commodores land a top-30 rated recruiting class, and then on to the University of California.
Wade Baldwin would be the 17th player selected in the 2016 NBA draft and Damian Jones would follow at the 30th spot from Vandy. At Cal, Hufnagel helped produce the Golden Bear’s consensus top-5 2015 recruiting class that included two McDonald’s All-Americans. From that class, Jaylen Brown would be the first round choice of the Boston Celtics in last year’s draft.
In April 2016, Hufnagel accepted the assistant coach/recruiter job at the University of Nevada. The Wolf Pack won this year’s Mountain West championship and are headed for a date with Iowa State University in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday in Milwaukee. Four Nevada players earned All MWC honors; with Marcus Marshall and Cameron Oliver two highly watched NBA prospects.
Yanni Hufnagel wasn’t good enough to be a player for his high school basketball team, but he never let that deter him from working towards his dream. When it comes to producing highly talented basketball stars, Yanni Hufnagel has found his calling.