Where there is a will, there is a way. Yanni Hufnagel did not need to be told this. Growing up in the Jewish suburb of Scarsdale, New York, a young Yanni Hufnagel was under a lot of pressure to get a conventionally successful job. But it was his love for basketball that determined his path in life.
His basketball playing days ended early. He was unable to make his own high school varsity basketball team. To continue to pursue a life with the game but he loves, Yanni Hufnagel had to get creative.
That’s why he took an unpaid internship with the New Jersey Nets while attending Cornell University. He would wash used player jerseys for most of the year, but all of that unpaid work gave him invaluable experience in the board room. He was able to attend the New Jersey Nets draft strategy sessions. This gave him a love of assembling basketball teams.
According to CBS Sports, Hufnagel quickly moved to Oklahoma where he became a graduate assistant for the Sooners. He was able to coordinate all on-campus recruiting visits while helping the team with basketball practices. His recruiting skills were quickly recognized by head coach Jim Capel. Capel shopped his graduate assistant around until he landed him in assistant coaching job at Harvard University.
Harvard is where Yanni Hufnagel really got to show off. His energy, enthusiasm for the game and his salesmanship allowed him to recruit the best basketball team in Harvard’s history. During his four years at the Ivy League school, the Crimson Tide went 79-24, won a school record 26 games in 2011, and was nationally ranked for the very first time.
Yanni Hufnagel has worked as an assistant coach for Villanova, UC Berkeley and the University of Nevada at Reno since his days at Harvard. He continues to compile impressive recruiting classes.