Yanni Hufnagel is a former college basketball coach, being considered at one point one of the top young assistants in the United States. He served the role of assistant coach for the University of California, Berkley, and prior to that, he had stopped at Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, and Harvard.
Before being regarded as a top recruiter in college basketball, Hufnagel worked in broadcasting when he was 16 years old, acting as a color analyst during local broadcasts. Ed Cohen, a former partner of Hufnagel, who is now a play-by-play commentator for the Rutgers women, mentioned how Hufnagel’s analysis was unusual for a 16 years old, showing a lot of knowledge and using phrases such as ‘nickel-dimer’ and breaking down how teams were pushing the tempo or defending.
Later on, he worked at Cornell as a student manager, but according to him he only committed to coaching when he went to Oklahoma when he was 23 years old. There, he worked for two seasons alongside Blake Griffin, and under Jeff Capel.
In his opinion, you have to get lucky with the people and players you are around in the business. He states that working with Blake Griffin and Jeff Capel was a major key that turned the engine for him, as it was important for him to see and appreciate early on their work ethic.
Yanni Hufnagel’s first real experience as a recruiter and coach was during a four-year stint at Harvard, where he worked under Tommy Amaker and thrived on forming relationships with athletes, especially those from the West Coast. Afterward, he spent a season at Vanderbilt, but he had the opportunity to move to California when the coach of New Golden Bears, Cuonzo Martin, offered him a job in April of 2014.
The offer was a surprise for Hufnagel, and he considered it a push forward in his pursuit and decided to jump at the opportunity. He noted that by taking the spot he put himself in a position where he could have more job opportunities in the future if they present themselves, but that his first priority upon moving was helping coach Cuonzo Martin.