Yanni Hufnagel is a Jewish man in his early 30s. He has loved basketball his entire life despite the fact he’s never been very good at it.
“I can make an open shot like a lot of Jewish players out there,” he jokes, “but that’s about it.”
Growing up in Scarsdale, New York, he was cut from his high school varsity team. But that did not keep him away from the game that he loves. He became the announcer for the team and that quickly exposed his penchant for basketball strategy.
Yanni Hufnagel was a pretty good athlete growing up, he just couldn’t play basketball. He played one year of college lacrosse before transferring to Cornell University. There he achieved an unpaid internship with the New Jersey Nets washing the player’s laundry. He just couldn’t stay away from his favorite game.
He then put his basketball mind to work and he got his big break in 2009. He took an unpaid assistant basketball coaching position at Harvard University where he led the team to its first Ivy League championship. He put his recruiting abilities on display at his four-year tenure at Harvard. And it didn’t hurt that the team went 79-24 during that time.
His tenacity in the recruiting world gained him attention in 2011. A CBS Sports poll of college coaches around the country named him the most likely assistant coach in college basketball to make it big based on recruiting skills. People that know him say that his recruiting is next level because he is not afraid to hear the word no and he is a very likable person.
What’s most remarkable about his time at Harvard University is the fact that the school does not issue athletic scholarships Yet he was able to craft a championship team.