Yanni Hufnagel Shares Some Inside Details About His Career As A College Basketball Assistant Coach

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.






November 17, 2018

Posted In: Basketball

Yanni Hufnagel’s Coaching Success

Yanni Hufnagel was an assistant basketball coach at Harvard University when the team won their first March Madness victory. He is now taking his scouting and recruiting skills to Vanderbilt University. It is a great opportunity for Yanni. Vanderbilt is an elite academic school with a beautiful campus, success sending players to the NBA, academic support, the SEC, scholarships, great weather, and televised games. The school is in Nashville, TN. Yanni spent four years at Harvard, where he enjoyed the success the basketball organization had experienced. It was hard for him to tell his players and recruits he was leaving. He understands that if it were not hard to do, he would question his love for the school and its students.

He worked with Blake Griffin and Jeremy Lin while they were in college. He is known as one of the country’s top recruiters. He asks each player if he is a winner, coachable, and is he someone that Yanni would enjoy being around. He says these three questions are important and related. He has been in the company of good coaches his whole coaching career. He values having more than one coach around to scout potential talent from a different perspective. He feels confident about a potential player when they can carry a smooth conversation.

He responds to people praising him as a great recruiter with humility. He brings a positive personality and contagious energy to his job. He has recognized the benefits of quantitative analysis in basketball. It is currently being used in the NBA. People like Ken Pomeroy have implemented it in college basketball. Basketball is not the same as baseball because each position is not incredibly unique from another. He is a decent shooter, but he would prefer the players he has coached take a game’s final shot.






August 24, 2018

Posted In: Basketball, Sports