Yanni Hufnagel’s veins have always been filled with the blood of a basketball coach. As a child, Hufnagel was known to study books on coaching and simulate their strategies with toy basketball players. Hufnagel’s coaching career began to take shape when he became the manager of his college’s basketball team at Cornell. Through Cornell, Hufnagel accepted an internship with the New Jersey Nets. After his graduation, this internship connected Hufnagel with Jeff Capel, the head coach of the Oklahoma’s basketball team. Capel hired Hufnagel as his graduate assistant coach. During this time, Hufnagel was credited with developing current NBA star Blake Griffin.
In 2009, Hufnagel became the assistant coach and recruiter for Harvard’s basketball team. It was in this position that Hufnagel’s zeal for basketball began to shine as he recruited players in a relentless, energetic fashion. It was also during this time that Hufnagel had the opportunity to aid the development of another current NBA star, Jeremy Lin. In 2013, the basketball coach accepted a job as the assistant coach to Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt University. Stallings and Hufnagel led Vanderbilt to an excellent recruiting year, landing top-rated prospects Wade Baldwin IV and Matthew Fisher-Davis.
After one season with Vanderbilt, Hufnagel accepted another assistant coach position at Berkley in 2014. During his time there, he was credited once again for landing prospects Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb; both 5-star recruits. Hufnagel helped coach Berkley to the No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, the highest ranking ever achieved by the program. After two seasons with Berkley, Hufnagel accepted yet another job as the assistant coach for the University of Nevada. After one season with Nevada that ended after a trip to the NCAA tournament, the young assistant coach departed from his position in 2016.