Making the Team with Yanni Hufnagel

There’s a lot of unseen work that goes on behind the scenes of any team. For collegiate sports, this rings especially true for their college athletes. The team is made up of student-athletes juggling class, financial aid, traveling, being away from home, and everything else that comes along with being an average college student in addition to the pressure of performing on the court or field. Holding it all together is the coach that brings these athletes together and inspires them to bring their best to every game. Before the players and coach ever get to their first game, they have to arrive at the college of their choice. The extremely competitive world of college recruiting is an equal match for any sports competition. When it comes to recruiting top basketball players, coach and recruiter Yanni Hufnagel have constantly been voted and reviewed as one of the best in the game.


No stranger to big-name colleges, Yanni Hufnagel attended both Penn State University as well as Cornell University before graduating with his Bachelor of Science. He then went onto the University of Oklahoma where he became the graduate assistant coach, coming up alongside and developing all-star player Blake Griffin. Joining Harvard’s men’s basketball program in 2009, Hufnagel’s successful recruiting approach was quickly noticed; he was voted in 2011 as “Most Likely to Make it Big Time” on account of his skills in recruiting. Credited with the development of future stars Jeremy Lin and Saunders while at Harvard, Hufnagel’s ability to recruit top players away from larger schools in favor of Harvard was widely noted.


Hufnagel parted ways with Harvard, joining Vanderbilt in 2013. His hugely successful recruiting while at Vanderbilt led to a first-round draft pick for the school and is still considered one of the strongest recruiting classes for Vanderbilt’s program. Hufnagel’s ability to weigh the options of each recruit and see the longterm investment in the individual player has made him a successful recruiter and coach with a record to match.

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