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.

How Yanni Hufnagel Developed Into A Fantastic Men’s Basketball Coach

Yanni Hufnagel is an assistant coach for the Vanderbilt University men’s basketball team. He started coaching on this team in May 2013. Prior to that, he had been coaching at Harvard University for four seasons. While at Harvard he had been their recruiting coordinator and was in charge of perimeter player development. He scouted opponents as well as high school players.

While Yanni Hufnagel was coaching at Harvard University he had been part of a coaching staff that had four 20-win seasons. For the last three years he was with this team they had won the Ivy League each year. The Harvard Crimson were invited to the NCAA Tournament also during this time, for both the 2011-12 and the 2012-13 seasons.

After he joined Vanderbilt University he led them to acquire one of the top 30 recruiting classes in the nation. Yanni Hufnagel’s success as a recruiter led to him joining the Villa 7. This was a conference put together by Nike which was designed to create the next generation of leaders in the world of college basketball.

The men’s basketball team coach at Vanderbilt, Kevin Stallings, said that Yanni Hufnagel is a fantastic coach who has a sterling work ethic. He also credited him as a tireless recruiter and someone with a great eye for talent. When he joined Vanderbilt, Yanni Hufnagel said that Coach Stallings is one of the best coaches in college basketball and that he was very honored to represent this Ivy League institution.

Earlier in his coaching career, Yanni Hufnagel had coached at the University of Oklahoma. He was a graduate assistant on this university’s men’s basketball team. In this role, he assisted the coaching staff during practices, helped the players do individual workouts, and created their recruiting database. During the two years he was a part of this team it won 53 games and in the 2008-09 seasons, they were in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight.