Yanni Hufnagel served as a coach for various American college basketball teams from 2007 to 2017, with his last coaching stint spent assisting Eric Musselman as part of the University of Nevada’s basketball team, the Nevada Wolf Pack. Yanni’s journey started while he was still studying at Cornell University, where he took up basketball management for just one season. He ended up doing so well as a manager that he was offered an internship with the New Jersey Nets.
Yanni’s internship steered him on the right course and he started coaching at the University of Oklahoma in 2007 as a graduate assistant coach shortly after his internship with the New Jersey Nets was over. Impressively, even though Yanni was taking up his first official position as a coach, he also spent time earning his master’s degree in Athletics Administration, which he received in 2010. During his time with Oklahoma, Hufnagel was able to work with the rising Blake Griffin, who went on to be a number one draft pick in the NBA.
In 2009, while still acting as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma Sooners, Yanni Hufnagel had also been appointed to work under Tommy Amaker as part of the Crimson basketball team at Harvard, where he was recognized for his superior recruiting capabilities. As one of the more relentless recruiting coaches that Harvard has ever had, Harvard’s basketball team took home a 90 to 30 record in Yanni’s final season to take down New Mexico’s Lobos basketball team.
Following his successful assistant coaching position at Harvard, Yanni Hufnagel moved on to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee as the assistant coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores under the head coach, Kevin Stallings. Yanni had also been offered a position to coach Israel’s Team USA Youth at the same time as Vanderbilt, but he ultimately chose to accept Vanderbilts offer instead. Although Yanni left after one season with the team, his recruiting talents were recognized once again by ESPN, which gave him credit for bringing in Matthew Davis and Wade Baldwin.
Yanni Hufnagel was the kind of man that would have made a great salesperson, not only because it was hard not to like him, but because he wasn’t afraid to go the extra mile to get a yes out of someone. College basketball assistant coaches are typically tasked with recruiting, which is what made Yanni such an effective assistant coach. Yanni Hufnagel’s ability to recruit nearly anyone and communicate effectively with other coaches and the team made him a valuable asset over the ten years he spent across five different college basketball teams, including the Oklahoma Sooners, Harvard Crimsons, Vanderbilt Commodores, California Golden Bears, and Nevada Wolf Pack.