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.
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