Yanni Hufnagel Assembles Killer Teams

Basketball may look rather simple — throw the ball into the hoop more times than the other team — but it is much more complicated than it appears. The people who put together basketball teams have the toughest jobs. They have to make sure the team has the right mixture of skills, speed and size. A weakness on any of these three fronts will surely lead to the team’s demise.


That’s why it is so fun to watch Yanni Hufnagel put teams together. First of all, Yanni Hufnagel is kind of an aberration in basketball. He is incredibly young, only in his early 30s, and he is Jewish. Shockingly, there are very few Jewish people involved with high-level basketball.


He really got my attention at the University of California at Berkeley. He was able to recruit an incredible incoming class that really stacked the team’s backcourt. At least two of his recruits got drafted into the NBA and there will surely be more to come. He was only at UC Berkeley for two years.


Before that he was at Villanova University. He was only in Nashville one year but he was able to recruit another killer backcourt. Villanova’s three-point percentage went through the roof and again two of his recruits became NBA draft picks.


But Yanni Hufnagel’s most impressive recruiting came at Harvard University. You do not usually associate Harvard success at basketball but Yanni Hufnagel put the team on the map. He started in 2009 and was involved with Jeremy Lin’s team. The Crimson Tide won its first-ever Ivy League championship, won a school record 26 games in 2011, and was finally ranked on the national stage.


He came to Harvard from Oklahoma where he served as a graduate assistant. He was able to help recruit with on-campus visits and assisted in the team’s practices.