A few years ago, Harvard University suddenly began flexing its college men’s basketball muscle. The Ivy League school started adding high-end talent to its roster.
At the center of the recruiting success under Tommy Amaker was a promising assistant coach, Yanni Hufnagel. One of the few Jewish assistants in men’s college basketball, Hufnagel was rapidly building a reputation as a master recruiter. Many saw him as a future college men’s basketball coach somewhere down the road.
Hufnagel seemed destined to join Jewish brethren such as Josh Pastner of first Memphis and currently Georgia Tech, Hawaii’s Eran Ganot, and Akron’s Keith Dambrot as the lead man at a Division I men’s basketball program.
Instead, after four strong seasons serving as an assistant at Harvard under Amaker, Hufnagel has been traveling a winding road along the coaching circuit. He spent two seasons as an assistant at Vanderbilt and then another two seasons with the Golden Bears at Cal where he ran into some legal trouble.
Fortunately Hufnagel got a chance to become an assistant under former NBA coach Eric Musselman at Nevada.
His first season with the Wolfpack could be putting his name back on the map as among potential men’s head coaching prospects in college hoops. Hufnagel has helped Musselman lead the Wolfpack to a 28-6 record and both the Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament titles. Nevada earned a No. 12 seed into the 2017 NCAA Tournament are set to play No. 5 Iowa State in first-round action on March 16.
The fact that Yanni Hufnagel has a fine recruiter, having drawn in many of Harvard’s top players as well as future NBA draft picks at Vanderbilt (Wade Baldwin IV) and California (Jaylen Brown). He has helped teams wherever he goes. That record of success may yet land him in the head chair of some Division I program.
Learn more about Yanni Hufnagel:
College basketball is one of the most popular and competitive sports in the United States. Assistant coaches on the top teams in college basketball will often be given plenty of opportunities to climb the ranks and eventually become head coaches overseeing their own programs. While the head coaching jobs are normally reserved for assistants at big programs, a current assistant at Harvard University looks like he could break the tradition.
Yanni Hufnagel is an assistant coach currently working for the Nevada Wolfpack. While he is still barely 30 years old, Yanni Hufnagel has gained the reputation as being a top assistant coach. Hufnagel, who has not had any basketball playing experience since he was in elementary school, has had a number of different positions since graduating from Cornell University.
Hufnagel’s first role following his graduation was as a graduate assistant working for the University of Oklahoma basketball team. After a one year stint there, he moved on to Harvard University where he was an assistant for four years. Hufnagel was then given an opportunity to work for a couple larger programs at the University of California and Vanderbilt. For the past few years, Hufnagel has been working for the Nevada Wolfpack college basketball program.
While Hufnagel does not have much playing experience, he does have a reputation for being a good coach and being one of the best recruiters in the country. He has been credited for attracting top-100 recruits to Harvard, which is particularly challenging given the school’s inability to give athletic scholarships.
Hufnagel was born in raised in New York. After graduating from high school, he moved on to Penn State University, but then transferred to Cornell. Hufnagel got his introduction to basketball coaching when he landed an internship working for the New Jersey Nets while he was still in school.