Former college assistant basketball coach and recruiter Yanni Hufnagel once sat down for an interview when he was coaching the University of California, Berkeley’s team the Golden Bears. The interview started out by stating that he had just been an assistant coach at Vanderbilt University. He had also coached at Harvard University where over the four years he was there they had a record of 90-30.
He said in this interview that basketball had always played a huge role in his life. He grew up in Scarsdale, New York, where he played lacrosse but had always been much more passionate about basketball. He recalls watching the 1989 national championship game that featured Michigan and Seton Hall going at it. Every time the ball changed possessions he would leap up and down in excitement.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t a very good player himself. Yanni Hufnagel says that he was cut from the team when he was a high school junior. He decided that being a coach instead was his destiny. He had started coaching when he was 16 years old, first at the Jewish summer camp that is held annually in Maine. He really enjoyed motivating the players and helping them improve their game.
His interest in coaching actually started when he was just 10 or 11 years old, he says. He had bought a book that former UCLA coach John Wooden had written. This book talked about coaching a basketball team and all that went into developing players. Yanni Hufnagel says that he was also a color commentator for games on his local access television station.
Once he completed college he joined the NBA’s New Jersey Nets as an intern. Yanni Hufnagel says that a few hundred people had applied for this coveted position and he was the one that was chosen. He turned this experience into further opportunities such as going to Oklahoma where he was a graduate assistant.
He says that, as a recruiter, he had the good fortune of coaching at some great schools. These were the University of California, Berkeley, Vanderbilt, and Harvard. These are counted among the top three universities for basketball excellence in the nation.
SWball November 17, 2018
Posted In: Basketball