The basketball players on the court are only half the battle for a winning basketball team. You can view them as chess pieces, and you need a chest master in order to move those pieces. This makes the basketball coach arguably the most important coach in all of high-level sports. That’s why Yanni Hufnagel’s rise to the top of college basketball sports is all that more impressive.
Yanni Hufnagel was cut from his high school varsity basketball team in Scarsdale, New York. He was not able to keep a roster spot on the predominantly Jewish basketball team. In fact, there are very few Jewish players or coaches at the highest level of the game. Despite all of these obstacles, Yanni Hufnagel has been able to rise to the highest level of college basketball.
After graduating from Cornell University, he took his first coaching job in Oklahoma. Jim Capel, head coach of Oklahoma, quickly recommended him for another assistant coaching job at Harvard. That may look like a step down, but what Yanni Hufnagel did for the Crimson Tide program is nothing short of miraculous.
Harvard is America’s oldest college. It is synonymous with high-level academics, but very few people connect the school to high-level sports. In fact, the Crimson Tide has never won an Ivy League championship in its existence until Yanni Hufnagel showed up.
Yanni Hufnagel recruited an Ivy League championship roster and the Crimson Tide went 79-24 in the four years that he served as assistant coach. It earned him an accolade from CBS Sports. He was awarded the assistant coach most likely to make it big due to recruiting skills by his peers in a CBS Sports poll.
He put together a top-five recruiting class for the University of California, Berkeley, and he currently serves as assistant coach to the University of Nevada at Reno.