Yanni Hufnagel was never too successful as a basketball player, he was cut from his high school team. Hufnagel’s love for the game stuck with him, and after graduating from Cornell university he landed a job as Harvard’s assistant basketball coach. Four years on the bench brought the Crimson’s success and put Hufnagel in the spotlight.
Hufnagel is proud of his Jewish heritage, and coached an American youth team to compete at the Maccabi games. He’s not the only Jewish coach in college basketball, over 25 Division 1 teams employ Jewish staff. Hufnagel stands out, he has more experience than other coaches his age, having gotten his start while still at Cornell. Colleagues describe him as hardworking, talented and genuine.
In college basketball, assistant coaches have to go the extra mile, doubling as recruiters. Younger coaches like Hufnagel have the benefit of being up to date with slang, as they often have to convince high school students to pick their college. Hufnagel’s age also makes him more relatable to his players, while still being mature enough to act as a mentor.
Hufnagel continued to work as an assistant coach after leaving Harvard, working at Vanderbilt, Reno and Berkley. While he has struggled, Hufnagel has always been able to work on and improve whatever team he’s at.
For Yanni the future seems bright, he’s a talented young coach with some serious credentials. In addition to his skill and success, he just has the right attitude. ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg said “It’s hard not to like Yanni Hufnagel”. A rising star in a competitive industry, Hufnagel is certainly one to watch.
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