Yanni Hufnagel has had a stellar career that any coach under(or over for that matter) 40 could envy. He has excel as a coach in pretty much every corner of the country at the Division One level of college basketball. It’s a wonder that he isn’t a head coach.
He first gained acclaim for his work with Blake Griffin during his time as a graduate assistant for the Oklahoma Sooners. His help with the NBA Superstar helped the Sooners advance to the Elite 8 in the 2008-09 season. Griffin was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft partially due to Coach Hufnagel training him in the leading up the draft.
Then, it was off to Harvard where he was instrumental in the development of Jeremy Lin. Harvard had a record of 90-30 during his years as an assistant. He also is a great recruiter. Not only did he consistently sign Top 150 prospects for Harvard, which is as tough as it sounds, but he also helped Vanderbilt recruit a Top 30 recruiting class in 2014. Two impressive feats considering the competition of those areas of the country.
Player development has just as much of an effect on a team’s success as anything else but it often overlooked. Building a strong connection with players is a key to unlocking their potential. Coach Hufnagel has shown that he excels in these areas and more. These elements cannot be taught, you either have them or you don’t. For the most part, all collegiate coaches are smart, but some do not possess these intangibles. Yanni holds a Master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education, so that covers the smart part.
Coaches like Yanni Hufnagel seem too good to be true, but they aren’t. He is enthusiastic and hard working while possessing charisma, intelligence and being down to earth. Add to that a winning attitude, and you have a coach that any team at any level would love to have.