The Rapid Rise of Yanni Hufnagel

Yanni Hufnagel was an assistant basketball coach for several NCAA programs. His coaching career began in 2007 as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma. After two years there he moved on to his first coaching experience at Harvard, where he was an assistant coach and recruiter. In 2013 his impressive recruiting skills led him to an opportunity to be an assistant coach at Vanderbilt. While this was a more prominent program than Harvard, Hufnagel was soon on to an even greater opportunity.


After only one year at Vanderbilt, the University of California Berkeley coach Cuonzo Martin took notice of Hufnagel. Although Hufnagel did not know Martin, he was offered the position as their assistant coach, landing him on the West Coast, with its vast recruiting possibilities. A coaching job with this high profile program could have led to more significant opportunities for the up and coming coach.


The rapid rise of Yanni Hufnagel can be attributed to his energetic drive and passion he had for the game. CBS college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein described Yanni Hufnagel as “the college basketball version of the Energizer bunny.” Hufnagel himself is quoted as saying, “I think when you’re passionate about what you do and what you believe in, in a kid, a prospect, then it doesn’t really feel like work,” and then going on to say, “I’m going to do whatever it takes.” This relentless energy and passion are what drew the attention of NCAA basketball programs.


Unfortunately, the positive attention was short-lived. After only two years with the University of California Berkeley, Yanni Hufnagel left the assistant coaching position due to sexual harassment allegations from a reporter. This scandal proved to be a downfall in his seemingly bright coaching career. Although he coached for one more year at the University of Nevada, still bringing his characteristic energy and passion, he left that position in 2017, after only one year. He has not coached since.

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